The Falcons finished under their win total by half a game in 2021, but new HC Arthur Smith still got the most out of their limited roster, especially when you consider their best non-quarterback stepped away early in the season. Atlanta consistently took care of the teams they were equal to or better than, which led to a three-win improvement from 2020, but they couldn’t punch above their weight class with their limited offensive weaponry. The Falcons finished in the bottom seven in both major offensive and defensive categories and they ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and they somehow scratched out seven wins. The Falcons still missed the playoffs (-275) and they finished with a losing record for a fourth consecutive season. It was also Atlanta’s first season without Julio Jones since they drafted him sixth overall in 2011. The trade left the Falcons extremely thin at WR behind Calvin Ridley, which became an issue when he walked away from the team after just five games. They won’t have him at all in 2022 after he was suspended for the entire season for gambling on NFL games.
Russell Gage became Matt Ryan’s top wideout but they’re both out of the picture this season. The Falcons will be without Ryan for the first time since 2008, and second-year TE Kyle Pitts is the new face of the franchise. He lived up to the hype despite scoring just one touchdown, breaking Tony Gonzalez’s franchise record for the most receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 1026 yards. He also joined Mike Ditka as the only tight ends to reach 1000+ yards during their rookie seasons. Longtime special-teams ace Cordarrelle Patterson also stepped up for Ryan by breaking out as an offensive player at 30 years old. He easily posted career highs across the board with 618/6 rushing and 52/548/5 receiving as a dual-threat weapon. The Falcons have struggled to field defenses in the top half of the league for most of the last decade, but they at least have a potential centerpiece for the unit for years to come with A.J. Terrell developing into a shutdown corner in his second season.
2021 By the Numbers
Record (ATS): 7-10 (6-10-1)
Season Win Total: 7.5 (under)
One-possession Record: 7-2
Missed Playoff Odds: -275
Over/Under record: 7-10
PPG: 18.4 (26th)
PPG Allowed: 27.0 (t29th)
Point Differential: -146 (28th)
|1||New Orleans Saints||+3.5||1|
|2||@Los Angeles Rams||+13||4:05|
|5||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+10.5||1|
|6||San Francisco 49ers||+5.5||1|
|9||Los Angeles Chargers||+6.5||1|
|10||@Carolina Panthers||+3||8:15 (Thurs)|
|15||@New Orleans Saints||+5||TBA|
|16||@Baltimore Ravens||+7.5||1 (Sat)|
|18||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+7.5||TBA|
The Falcons will travel the 12th-fewest miles (15,648) and cross 14 time zones this season (per Bookies.com).
Atlanta has just one primetime game when they travel to Carolina in Week 10.
The Falcons have an extra home game.
The Falcons have the 10th-toughest schedule based on opponent win totals (per Sharp Football).
Atlanta will face two opponents coming off byes when they host the Chargers in Week 9 and when they hit the road to face the Saints in Week 15.
The Falcons have two short-rest road games against the Panthers on TNF in Week 10 and the Ravens on Saturday in Week 16.
Key Off-season Moves
|QB Marcus Mariota||WR Drake London||QB Matt Ryan (Ind)|
|CB Casey Hayward||EDGE Arnold Ebiketie||WR Calvin Ridley (suspended)|
|EDGE Lorenzo Carter||LB Troy Andersen||WR Russell Gage (TB)|
|RB Damien Williams||QB Desmond Ridder||TE Hayden Hurst (Cin)|
|OT Elijah Wilkinson||EDGE DeAngelo Malone||EDGE Dante Fowler (Dal)|
|WR Auden Tate||RB Tyler Allgeier||LB Foyesade Oluokun (Jax)|
|WR Bryan Edwards|
|OT Germain Ifedi|
2022 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||5 (+125/-150)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 5.5 (-110) in late March to 5 (+125) in late July
Super Bowl: +6000 in mid-February to +20000 in late July
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
Atlanta’s win total has shrunk from 5.5 to 4.5 victories at most books since late March, and there’s little reason for optimism in Atlanta heading into the 2022 season. The Falcons traded away franchise quarterback Matt Ryan after 14 seasons and they’ll need Marcus Mariota and/or Desmond Ridder to be pleasant surprises. Mariota was a solid if unspectacular starter in Tennessee for five seasons, averaging 7.5 YPA with a 4.3% TD rate and a 2.5% INT rate. He’ll try to provide serviceable play until the Falcons get a glimpse of Ridder at the end of the season before they pick at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Kyle Pitts showed glimpses of future greatness as a rookie last season, and he’ll need to realize that potential as a sophomore to elevate the rest of his anemic offensive cast. The Falcons were at least able to retain breakout hybrid weapon Cordarrelle Patterson on a team-friendly, two-year contract with $5 million guaranteed. They also brought in another massive target in first-round pick Drake London, but his selection was a bit of a head-scratcher since he’s another big-bodied receiver like Pitts. Atlanta’s defense is likely to be one of the NFL’s weakest units once again but A.J. Terrell has developed into one of the better cornerbacks in the league, and they landed him a solid running mate in Casey Hayward on a two-year deal with $6 million guaranteed.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
Arthur Smith and Ryan somehow snuck out seven victories in their first and only season together, despite finishing in the bottom seven in both major offensive and defensive categories and ranking 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Falcons clearly overperformed in the win department in 2021 and they decided to tear it all down after a rough two weeks in March. They lost one of their few star players, Calvin Ridley, to a season-long suspension for gambling on the NFL. Despite their dreadful cap situation, they then whiffed in their misguided pursuit of the disgraced Deshaun Watson. With the roster needing a hard reset, the Falcons traded away Ryan, the franchise’s most distinguished quarterback, to the Colts for a third-round pick.
The Falcons have won the NFC South once in the last nine years when they won 11 games in 2016, and it isn’t going to happen this season at +2500 odds. They’ve finished under their win total in four straight seasons and in seven of their last nine campaigns, and Atlanta isn’t favored in any contest at this stage of the summer. The Falcons are slowly starting to rebuild their roster and they’re going to get off to a rough start with a brutal first nine weeks to the season. Atlanta could have very little motivation to win games in the final month of the season once its schedule does lighten up in the second half of the season. Theys have struggled to field defenses in the top half of the league for most of the last decade and that’s not going to change this year. Atlanta’s offense will be one of the league’s worst once again, especially going from Ryan to a combination of Mariota and Ridder.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Drake London: receiving yards (764.5), receiving TDs (4.5), ROY (+750)
Fantasy Points Projection — receiving yards (825), receiving TDs (5.5)
Best-Case Scenario: London steps into a 25% target share with the Falcons vacating the fourth-most targets. London is used to handling plenty of volume after averaging 14.9 targets per game in his final season at USC, which was the most in the NCAA since 2017.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Falcons have one of the worst offensive environments with some of the league’s worst QB play, and he struggles to see enough quality targets as the second option behind Kyle Pitts.
Kyle Pitts: receiving yards (900.5), receiving TDs (4.5), receptions (68.5), most receiving yards (+5000)
Fantasy Points Projection — receiving yards (1025), receiving TDs (5), receptions (74)
Best-Case Scenario: After resetting the NFL rookie TE record for receiving yards (1026) in the Super Bowl era, Pitts emerges as the heir to the TE1 spot with Travis Kelce nearing the end of his career.
Worst-Case Scenario: Pitts once again struggles to find the end zone after scoring just once as a rookie, and his production tails off going from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder at quarterback.
Best Bets and Leans
Bold and Italicize bets and leans
Atlanta Falcons under 5.5 wins (-115, PointsBet, placed March 29). Risk 2.2 units to win two units.
Atlanta Falcons division finishing position: 4th (-150, DraftKings, placed July 25). Risk 1.5 units to win one unit.
- Each of Atlanta’s seven wins came in one-possession games last season and they finished 7-2 overall in those contests. They’re going to regress in tight contests going from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota, and Atlanta’s roster is heading in the wrong direction and it could be the worst in the league. They do have two matchups against the Panthers and an extra game against the Bears, but the NFC South drew tough matchups against the NFC West and the AFC North. The Panthers also got a late quarterback upgrade by landing Baker Mayfield, which makes the Falcons the clear worst team in the division. I’ve bet two successful unders on the Falcons in each of the last two seasons, and I’m going back to the well in what’s going to be a long season in Atlanta. The 5.5 win total is gone at every book but you still can bet the Falcons to finish last in the NFC South at -150 odds at DraftKings. That’s dramatically better odds than you can get at BetMGM where the Falcons are -275 to finish fourth in the division.
None of note.