2012 Atlanta Falcons Betting Preview
For the first time in franchise history the Atlanta Falcons have made the playoffs two seasons in a row. But both times they’ve been bounced out immediately, and in blowout fashion. Atlanta has had four straight winning seasons under Coach Smith, but that’s as far as it’s gone. So it’s time for this team to take the next step, and establish itself as a contender; that starts with a playoff victory.
Last Season in Review
Atlanta started 2-3 last year, then won five of its next six to plant itself firmly in the NFC playoff picture. Then after a loss to Houston the Falcons won three of their last four to finish at 10-6. But in the Wild-Card game at the Giants Atlanta laid a big egg and lost 24-2. So the Falcons still haven’t won a playoff game since 2004.
Atlanta went just 1-5 vs. teams that made the playoffs last year, including the Wild-Card defeat, and they got swept by the Saints, the team they’re trying to get past in the NFC South. So obviously they’re missing a little something. But most of the ingredients seem to be in place, outside of the confidence a couple of big wins might foster.
Atlanta Falcons ranked 10th in the league in offense last season at 377 YPG and 17th in rushing at 115 YPG.
On the other side of the ball the Falcons defense ranked 12th by allowing 333 YPG, and sixth vs. the run at 97 YPG.
So overall Atlanta ranked seventh in total yardage at +43 YPG, 13th in total rushing at +18 YPG and
third in time-of-possession at +4:10 per game.
Last year NFL teams that won the TOP battle covered the spread 66 percent of the time. But Atlanta only went 7-8-1 ATS, because they won three games by too little to cover the spread.
Also, even though Falcons games averaged 47 points, 12th-most in the league, Atlanta went 7-9 on the totals, because seven of their games were lined with totals of 48 and above.
Individually QB Matt Ryan completed 61 percent of his passes for a club-record 4,177 yards; he’s also now 43-19 as an NFL starter. RB Michael Turner ran for 1,340 yards; WR Roddy White caught 100 balls for 1,300 yards; and Julio Jones nabbed 54 balls for 960 yards and eight scores in about three-quarters of a season as a rookie.
The Falcons didn’t do a whole lot over the off-season, but they did lose special teams sparkplug Eric Weems, and LB Curtis Lofton, last season’s leading tackler, defected to the Saints. So they’ll go to camp with a hole in the middle of the defense. Their only acquisition of consequence came when they traded for CB Asante Samuel.
At the draft the Falcons didn’t have a choice until the second round, when they took C Peter Konz from the O-line factory that is Wisconsin. They then added Southern Miss OT Lamar Holmes in the third round.
2012 Falcons Schedule
Atlanta will play the seventh-easiest schedule in the league this season, based on last year’s W/L records. The Falcons only have five games against teams that made the playoffs last year, and three of those are at home. But they also have to play at San Diego and at Philly. Somewhat strangely, Atlanta alternates road and home games all season long, never playing back-to-back either at home or on the road.
2012 Atlanta Falcons Betting Odds and Predictions
The Falcons are being offered at +125 at TopBet to win the NFC South this season, 14/1 to win the NFC and 25/1 to win the Super Bowl. Atlanta will also work off a regular-season wins ‘over/under’ of 9.5 (O -105/U -125) at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
The Falcons are close; they’ve got a quarterback and a running game, and the defense is decent, and could improve. They won 10 games last year, and we don’t see any reason they can’t do the same this season. So we’ll go with the ‘over’ on 9.5 wins on Atlanta.