The Falcons opportunity may be greater this year than in any other. The Saints have been hampered by turmoil and injuries, the Bucs are undergoing another coaching change, and Cam Newton and the Panthers are probably at least another year away from contending with the top dogs. Matt Ryan looks to be finally reaching his high potential, which isn’t surprising given his assortment of weapons. Julio Jones after just one season is already being considered among the elites of the NFL wide receivers. Accompanying him is the strong veteran presence of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner. The Falcons have been working frequently out of the no-huddle this preseason and have been nearly unstoppable. Of course, this is just preseason action, but all reports have been extremely encouraging.
Atlanta is looking to get the ball in Julio Jones hands as much as possible, and no wonder sine he is their most explosive player. The offense seems primed to abandon their ground and pound attack and really open up their offense this year. Turner the Burner has taken a lot of, well, burn throughout his career, and looks to take quite a decrease in carries this season. Jacquizz Rodgers looks to take on an increase in his workload with his versatility out of the backfield. The offense will be a real key to compete in the NFC this year. With Drew Brees in the Falcons division and Rodgers and even rejuvenated Eli Manning in the conference, there looks to be a lot of high scoring affairs. The Falcons will need to score a lot of points to keep up with the elite of the NFC.
The difference in the NFC South could be the strength of the Falcons defense. They improved their secondary a great deal by trading a 7th round pick for Asante Samuel. Samuel may not be the elite corner he once was, but should improve their secondary a great deal. Combined with Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson now in the slot, the Falcons secondary will have some serious talent to slow down the elite passers of the league.
The battle for first place in the NFC South will be one likely to go deep into the season. The Saints are the reigning champions, but little has gone right in their highly publicized offseason. Still, with Drew Brees under center, the Falcons have some serious competition. Regardless, Atlanta is one of the top teams in the NFC as well as the NFL. This should be a fun season for Falcons fans and I will be along for the entire ride.