NFL 2014 Preview – Atlanta Falcons

After reaching the NFC Championship in 2012, the Atlanta Falcons’ 2013 campaign was derailed by a slew of devastating injuries.  Consequently, the Falcons finished 4-12, a result no one saw coming.

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After reaching the NFC Championship in 2012, the Atlanta Falcons’ 2013 campaign was derailed by a slew of devastating injuries.  Consequently, the Falcons finished 4-12, a result no one saw coming.

Fortunately, many of those injured players return healthy this season.  Among them are receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, a once lethal one-two combination.  If Jones and White return to form, the Falcons will again have the league’s best receiving corps, which includes dangerous slot receiver Harry Douglas.  Future hall of fame tight end Tony Gonzalez retired, but the Falcons hope the promising Levine Toilolo will pick up the slack.

Quarterback Matt Ryan will facilitate the team’s passing game.  Ryan had a subpar 2013 season by his standards, but he should turn it around this year.

The running back position will likely be a committee that’s headed by solid veteran Steven Jackson.  Jackson has plenty of help behind him in backups Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman.

The team’s offensive line suffered a huge loss when left tackle Sam Baker was declared out for the season.  Now, first-rounder Jake Matthews, who would’ve started at right tackle, will take over the left side.  Lamar Holmes will start at right tackle, Jon Asamoah and Justin Blalock at guard and  Joe Hawley at center to round out the group.

The Falcons’ defense is moving to a 3-4 alignment this season and is led by a strong and improved defensive line.  Jonathan Babineaux, Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson lead the front, providing space for the team’s linebackers.

Joplo Bartu and Kroy Biermann will start on the outside while Paul Worrilow occupies the inside.

Atlanta’s secondary is very young but has tons of talent.  Second-year player Desmond Trufant has the potential to develop into an elite corner.  Robert Alford and Josh Wilson are vying for playing time on the opposite side.  Meanwhile, the hard-hitting William Moore and Dwight Lowery are slotted as the starting safeties.

Atlanta currently stands at 40-1 to win the Super Bowl and 22-1 to win the NFC.  The Falcons are projected to have the 11th most difficult schedule (.512 opponents’ win percentage).