Posted: 9:39 am Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Sporting News: Falcons third in division, 24th in NFL 

By Mark Bradley

"One word of advice, men. Don't buy that Sporting News yearbook." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

“One word of advice, men. Don’t buy that Sporting News yearbook.” (Curtis Compton/AJC)

As faithful readers — and perhaps some unfaithful ones — know, I’m a major fan of preseason predictions, and not just mine. (Especially not mine.) There was a year when Sporting News, which historically has produced first-rate annuals for all the big sports, didn’t publish a single one, and I was beyond consolation.

I’m happy to report that Sporting News is again back in the yearbook business, and it was with great delight that I bought its Pro Football edition over the weekend. (I also bought Phil Steele’s idiosyncratic college football annual, of which I’m also enamored and which has Georgia ranked No. 7 in the nation.) It does not, however, make me happy to report the following:

Sporting News ranks the Atlanta Falcons No. 3 in the four-team NFC South, behind New Orleans and Carolina, and No. 24 in the 32-team NFL, one spot ahead of Tampa Bay.

This comes on the heels of Pro Football Focus’ ranking of NFL starting lineups, which slotted the Falcons at a shocking — to me, and surely to Thomas Dimitroff — 30th. While there are some folks (I’m one), who believe that the Falcons are closer to the 13-3 team of 2012 than the 4-12 assemblage of 2013 and are therefore primed to rebound, other observers think that the Flowery Branch crew has fallen and won’t get up anytime soon.

Which is, as they say, why they play the games. I think the Falcons, with a little luck, can go 10-6 and grab a wild card. Sporting News believes otherwise.

121 comments
MireyaRCrane
MireyaRCrane

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Birdfanforlife
Birdfanforlife

It all depends on the offensive line. If that line gels, then we will be very good. We will score at will and control the ball. A fresh defense can overcome a lot.  Last year, we had to pass the ball more then any other team in the league and our time of possession was not very good. That made a bad defense even worse. 


I see a 11-5 record and maybe better. Again, this all depends on the line. If that line takes 8 games to gel there goes the season.

doolie1
doolie1

Nobody really knows what to expect from the defense this year....Also, who knows how fast Jake will become a good RT or if Sam Baker will be healthy(or even average if healthy).  Jon Asamoah also isn't near the RG as people are making him out to be.....That said, the defense should be better than before and hopefully at least average...hopefully the O line will be average...BIG IF those two things happen, the falcons can be around 10 wins. If not around 7 wins.

Anyhow, I am hopping for the best and have my season tickets and look forward to seeing how  the transformation pans out, but I imagine the organization will need a few more years of drafting and free agents to greatly improve(and that's only if TD makes MUCH better personnel decisions than in the past.). But I love the falcons and keep hope alive.


DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

If the coaching staff can think outside the box, it's possible. But they'll have to get help from some of the rookies they drafted. These guys need to grow-up in a hurry and come out the box contributing to the team. It will take some guys on the team to be short of great....

AABraves
AABraves

They will improve in a handful of area and regress in others. Its going to be a multi year rebuild not one draft. Those really good seasons were the peak this is the valley folks

inoto20
inoto20

They aren't better than no and carolina. We'll see about tb

I don't think they are anywhere near the 13 win team. That team needed a lot of luck to win 13 games. Maybe were last second. 

I see 7-9 as what they are. Yet the paid the qb like he's won a sb. Embarrassing and stupid.

inoto20
inoto20

Like I said, vintage braves. Win 9 in a row. Sweep a team. Then the next week lose 4 in a row and get swept by the team you just swept. They'll lose 2 in chicago and be at least 2 behind the nats. 

This team has no consistency. Bipolar braves is what they should be called. 


JaySly
JaySly

Atl tired of this disrespect! Arthur will put all this stuff on the bulletin board--atl will make the playoffs somehow-- New Orleans is overrated

gfw
gfw

GM: below NFL average

Coach: below NFL average

Overall Team Talent: below NFL average


So what's the controversy about the low ratings?  Could we go as good as 8-8 or 9-7.  With some luck, sure.  So what?

BornADawg1
BornADawg1

Wow so many negative fans. You guys are giving in before training camp even starts. Mike Nolan finally has the pieces for his defense so our team will look more like 2012 than last year. The big bodies we brought in on D are used to eat up blocks and let the linebackers go after the QB. Our O line will be fine as long as they all stay healthy (especially Sam Baker). Mike Tice  and the additions will definitely help our line do well this year both passing and running. I suspect Devonta Freeman will be our main RB with Rogers at backup and Jackson coming in on short yardage and in the red zone. Saints will def be tough but we only lost to them with a combined total of 10 points last year. I think the panthers will take a step back because they lost their top 4 recievers, half of their secondary and their left tackle and didnt really do much to replace it. The Bucs offseason impressed me with their free agents they brought in and the offensive weapons they brought in through the draft. Lovie Smith could also help that Defense out. They could be a surprise this year but it could also take a while before they start to gel together so we'll see. I think we'll be just fine this year

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

Who is gonna block and who is gonna stop the blockers.  If these questions are answered positively, the Falcons will be in good shape.  Otherwise, Smitty will be out.

slydawg
slydawg

Last year this team ranked anywhere from 30th to 27th, so this is an improvement. Besides, this team has no linebackers and backups starting at safety. Anyways, you get what you earn. Life is fair but cruel. Maybe this team will surprise some folks next year and sneak into the post season. It's the NFL, any given Sunday.....

p.s. Still no pass rush either, which puts more pressure on the offense.

keendaddy
keendaddy

I'm sure that our Oline is upgraded over last year's bunch. Our secondary and WR's should be strong and our Dline is stouter. Not sure if we can pressure QB yet or not. When's the last time our Defense won a game?

Intruder
Intruder

Smith's 10-25 record against playoff teams is a strong indication that he is either in over his head or someone has not acquired the talent to compete with them. Either way, this is not good. Falcons, Braves, Dawgs, just can't handle the big boys.

BrownianMotion
BrownianMotion

In vegas next week, I'll lay a hundred on the panthers, saints and falcons to win it all!  Low chance, but high odds---I'll really cash in!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Last year I pick the Seahawks to win the super bowl and they won.


SEAHAWKS VS TEXANS


But  Texans fell of the map.


This year Super Bowl


BENGALS VS PACKERS


BENGALS SUPER BOWL CHAMPS


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

Just put it in perspective.  Difficult to predict the falcons going any better than 3-3 in the division.  with the other 10 games including the AFC north and NFC north, as well as Phx and NY giants....can't realistically see them faring any better than .500 in those games either.

this team will finish somewhere between 9-7 and 7-9.  would have to hope for 9-7 and a tie-breaker win against one of the other teams in contention for the wildcard.

kerryb
kerryb

If this OL comes together like I think it will and they don't have the amount of key injuries they did last season this team will be back to the 13-3 team they were just 2 seasons ago. It's like everyone has forgotten that this team was completely decimated by injuries last season like I've never seen before. That won't happen 2 seasons in a row.

slydawg
slydawg

Smith is a good coach. He's solid, nothing more, nothing less. But a champion? Me don't believe so. I applaud Smith for being the solid, steady presence the Falcons sorely needed, but like his QB, he can't get players to kick in that extra gear.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@kerryb 

I guess Atlanta going 13-3 in the year that Payton had to sit out was just a coincidence

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

@kerryb dawgs and gators experienced a bunch more injuries.  with that said, the falcoms more resembled the gators last year than dawgs.

every break went their way in 2012, while majority of breaks went the other way in 2013.  8-8 team, which is a gift considering the loss of tg

JSSN
JSSN

@kerryb

They've been no more than 500 in the NFC South the entire Smith regime. That's not negative just the record. Carolina and Tampa aren't being coached or QB'ed by scrubs anymore.

JSSN
JSSN

@PaulinNH

Since someone is calling you out with a video no less.Anybody else wanna talk about game situation (leading 31-26), less than a 1 min 30 sec. remaining, and 4th quarter 3rd and 2, regardless of all Dierdorf's screaming (the clock kept running with the first down), and the Colts took 2 straight kneel downs and ran out the clock!

Context is a heck of a thing, have "a" good day! Who you got on Sunday?

JSSN
JSSN

@PaulinNH

Kinda sad, you realize less than 3 games later would be his last in Indy the loss to Sanchez and the Jets. Oh yeah, he didn't avoid "injury" too well with that slide as most seem to remember! Less than 6 months later, he was under the knife!

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Yeah,gang up on anyone who disagrees,right? Well,I disagree. You dont know anymore than anyone else on here. You dont listen very well,do you? Fans are fans,4-12 or 13-3. Whatever! Thats the difference between fans and flavor of the month dingalings,Yeah? BTW,How were you a Falcons season ticket holder and seen every game,blah blah de blah while simultaneously attending every single SoCal college and HS game known to man and enjoying your close personal relationships with every College and Pro Coach that is and ever was and attending and evaluating every UW game AND being God's Gift to Hollywood? OK,explain that to all us lower life forms,'bright guy'...

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@JSSN 

And New Orleans' coaching staff isn't having to sit out the year thanks to BountyGate

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN @PaulinNH Im not 'calling out' anyone. Manning was brought up,I offered up some interesting Manning Info,which Is especially relevant given all the disrespectful,over the line garbage posted about Ryan. What a shame you see intelligent lively debate as some sort of death/grudge match. Then again,Im not motivated by any personal,racial,regional or political agendas,unlike some...

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

I love when you use words like "every" to try to get your extreme fantasies to seem rational. The trees (personal relationships) are simple, it is funny how small the world actually is. The problem is that you drop in on stuff and never grasp context. Go on and rant some more, nothing is quite amusing. Right eye twitching again yet?

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

You say things without any merit. 

"Yeah,gang up on anyone who disagrees,right? Well,I disagree. You dont know anymore than anyone else on here. You dont listen very well,do you? Fans are fans"

New day, same mess. No one is "gang(ing) up on anyone. Such silliness. That person can say what they like. I laugh when you dare accuse people of not listening. The concept of chronological time has no place in your mind. Too funny, and you can't wrap your mind around it! And you never got on airplane, remember Betamax, or realize that NFL football is a "business" masquerading as a spectator "sport." Crawford Post was fun back in the day, it paid well and I got all of the NFL and sadly all of the NCAA I wanted!

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331@PaulinNH

PaulinNH wrote:

"I guess Atlanta going 13-3 in the year that Payton had to sit out was just a coincidence "

Zuzu331 responded:

"Manning was brought up,I offered up some interesting "

You do know he is talking about "Sean P-a-y-t-o-n," not "P-e-y-t-o-n Manning?" Wow!

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN @zuzu331 Whats this about my right eye? If Im the second coming of Lucifer himself,Argentine Deathsquad,et al then how am I in extreme fantasy? Such faulty logic.What a cracked pot indeed! You cant go both ways,pick an attack and stick with it...(Sgt Carter was always kinda cool,suffering Pyles crap and never killin him,so thats no insult to me.Thx though)

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN @zuzu331 Never heard of The Crawford Post,and Ive been an avid fan from way back. See,my dad actually played The Game with a leather helmet and all that good stuff,Old School. I was raised in a way 'your Ilk' could never 'wrap their heads around'. I played a little bit too. How bout YOU? Hmmmm?

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN @PaulinNH Oh No! The 'post deleter'! Ohhh,Sheldon,stop 'destroying' me! Seriously,what is wrong with you? SMDH.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Nope,I didnt. Victim of your obscure references once again. And once again,it doesnt matter.

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

Carter is a fantasy. Pyle was a fantasy. Get the picture, it is fantasy for comic relief at the expense of communities. You know it, ex-Marine, he would not have made it out of basic. But it made Sheldon Leonard further increase his bottom line. 

Logic is when one claims a company which has countless actual exhibited cases of war crime level acts as his vocation, don't expect a pat on the back! Many find that type of stuff just groovy (that is old world, look it up). That "Socialist" crack was too funny. Kinda like Scottsboro in the 30s. You know what the twitch means, enjoy, 

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

Oh no, here he goes with 'I played a little bit too. How bout YOU?" card.

Ha ha, I played for Gary Phillips who coached a certain tailback that way too many people hero worship in these parts from 1977-1978. My uncle Milton who I was raised with played in the same high school backfield with former UGA defensive star Steve Dennis, Kansas State and Cincinnati Bengals back !saac Jackson, and 4 time Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl champion J.T. Thomas. Ben Zambiasi (UGA SEC and CFL champion) was a close family friend from childhood. I've known 4 GHSA state championship coaches since I was knee high tall (Billy Henderson, Mike Garvin, Gene Brodie, and Gary Phillips) my entire life. I backed up former Denver Broncos DB and NFL scout Roger Jackson as a freshman. Julius Adams of the New England Patriots is my 2nd cousin, Tommy Hart of the 49ers and later Bears married my Aunt. He took me to my first NFL game at Wrigley Field with John Brodie, and Coach Halas, Most importantly, Jim Parker, two time NFL champ and member of the Pro Football  Hall of Fame was close family friend and I got to spend countless hours with him in Baltimore and Ohio until his unfortunate death from Dementia. So, you can call it a "game" all you want. Those 3 men and former Browns great and long-time Bill Parcells' assistant Fred Hoaglin.taught me way better! It's a business, a mighty big and powerful one. But let me stop, you'll be declaring more "name dropping!"

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Well well.I was wrong on a blog and you guys were right. Oh Nooo... See,its that easy to be a decent Human Being.Try it sometime.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Oh Yeeahhhh? Well I played with Red Grange,dated Jim Thorpe's Grand Daughter's really,REALLY close Friend and ate Take Out Chinese with Bronco Nagurski's Second Cousin once. I also saw Ronald Reagan in that God Awful Gipper movie TWICE when I was a kid so NAHHHHHHH!!!

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Wow!! So many names...IVE NEVER HEARD OF!!!  OK. You have a pathological need to one up people. Nothing Special about that. Buck Up,dont fret,little fella. Lots,lots of people out there just like you,and guess what? Those same people who didnt care before? They dont care TWICE as much now. Also,thanks for repeating back things I just said to you in my previous post. Thats not really really Tremendously Creepy or anything...

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331 

It is wild when every other term you post is a pejorative this, or pejorative that; and you still have the gaul to talk about "decant human" behavior. Come on, run that stuff on someone else. Nobody minds errors when it is not shaded in arrogant ignorance.  Or worst of all, "I played the game" condescending mess! When I ask someone else a question it is on them, not you.

How is a point made by someone my "obscure references?" It matters  because you choose to post a video trying to make a point.

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

You played with "The Ghost," explains a lot (leather helmet)! And it's "Bronko," not "Bronco." ;)

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

Just you never heard of "Sean Payton." Call it "creepy," have a tantrum. It just shows how little you know about the game. 

My old professor college said it best about old the old journalism idiom (a takeoff on a old Burmese Proverb on honesty): "Never ask a question you don't know the answer to!" That question mark is a hell of a thing. I provide honesty and transparency for my authenticity. "You don't care?" Then that is your issue, not mine! That is how that works, it is not one-upmanship when it is your reality. 

Your issues are yours, your paint brush is yours, but my canvas is clean!

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN @zuzu331 Oh for Gods sake,do you ever stop being the world's biggest jerk? Lets examine what youve fired off at me just recently:My impending Cardiac/Stroke issues (!!) and some bizarre foolishness about my right eye. Whats wrong with you,posting things like that to someone on a blog? Are you crazy? Can you even post anything at all without insulting,belittling,threatening and/or nitpicking someone,when they disagree with you? I really dont think youre capable of it. Since you posted TWO references to Payton MANNING yourself you obviously didnt realize he was talking about the Coach of The Bounty Gates,either! Oh Yeah,and it still doesnt matter,we're all just Schmoes on the Free Fan Blog,like YOU.

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

"Oh for Gods sake,do you ever stop being the world's biggest jerk? Lets examine what youve fired off at me just recently:My impending Cardiac/Stroke issues (!!) and some bizarre foolishness about my right eye."

Is it "impending?" Have you not calm down enough to avoid such a calamity? 

"Since you posted TWO references to Payton MANNING yourself you obviously didnt realize he was talking about the Coach of The Bounty Gates,either!"

Say what? It is called "chronological time" for a reason. I only mentioned "Peyton Manning" because you posted the video! I knew what he was talking about because I understood that he was referencing Sean Payton's suspension for 2012 (the same year Atlanta went 13-3). My goodness, the man owns Mike Smith in football terms. (8-2). So how am I going to mistake them again? 

Lots of people disagree with me, and we get along just fine. Nevertheless, they know how to address me. Funny how you've still not learned. 

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JSSN Know how to address you? That is absurd. You disrespect,insult,demean and nitpick any and all who dare to differ from the party line that YOU disseminate and that is FACT,not conjecture. I watched you gang up on and bully people on here for some time before I ever made my first post(I dont post little comments on teh interwebz). Shame there are no Administrators on here to send Barves,Seen and Yourself off to the sh*tcan as you three so richly deserve,not one of you offer up anything but hateful bile and idiocy. Thats not just my opinion. It is the truth,as you love to drone on and on and on about...

JSSN
JSSN

@zuzu331

It's your Opinion. The only "shame" is that you are so unaware.  "Gang up?" So who are these posters who are in cahoots with me?

It is the fantasy that is so astonishing to most. A person so unable to post without dropping pejoratives. Someone so insecure that they can't use "real world scenarios." Always some silly comment. You've not even taken the time to learn own team's roster but you have the nerve to keep dropping how others are so corrupt. Hey, you keep insulting the moderators who keep letting you get away with so many violations of the AJC user agreement. That is always one of the great hilarity areas of AJC blogging, You're the blogging version of the person who criticizes the one who cooks their meals. You still don't get that none of these people have their paychecks signed by the Atlanta Falcons. Neither do I, and I have no desire to be employed by either them or any the other of 31 teams in the NFL. 

No, absurdity is that you keep picking a fight you're not equipped for. It's the blog version of Dien Bien Phu, is that obscure enough for you? I'm not the one under siege. :-)