Atlanta Falcons NFL Betting Preview: Too Many L’s in the ATL

Posted on: September 1, 2020, 09:24h. 

Last updated on: September 1, 2020, 12:08h.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. That disclaimer is mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a warning to investors, but it rings true in the NFL as well.

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw 26 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions in 2019. That’s well off his MVP season of 2016, when he had 38 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. (Image: John Bazemore/USA TODAY Sports)

In 2016, the Atlanta Falcons did everything but beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. With MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons had the look of a perennial contender. But that hasn’t happened. Atlanta went 10-6 in 2017 and 7-9 the past two seasons.

Now, it’s the New Orleans Saints who are the perennial contender in the NFC South, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to have leap-frogged the Falcons, as well.

Even with a star quarterback, the Falcons are seen as long shots to win the Super Bowl. They are +4,000 at PointsBet and William Hill, and +5,000 at Westgate SuperBook and elsewhere.

Over/Under: 7.5 Wins

The NFC South is seen as a two-horse race between the Drew Brees-led Saints and the Buccaneers, who signed six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. Atlanta ranges from +700 at William Hill to +1,000 at SuperBook to win the division.

After the Falcons lost in the Super Bowl to the Patriots, the general public seems to make a case for them being really good and making a run,” Ed Salmons, the vice president of risk management and oddsmaking at SuperBook, told

“I see a team with a bad coach in Dan Quinn who should have been fired after last year, but they won some games after they were eliminated and they brought him back. The Falcons have a brutal schedule and are not getting any younger. I expect the Falcons to blow this team up after this year and rebuild.”

Based on last year’s winning percentages, the Falcons face the fifth-toughest schedule in the NFL. That includes Seattle, Dallas, and Green Bay in what could be a make-or-break first four games.

The consensus over/under win total is 7.5. The bet is -110 on both sides of the ledger at William Hill.

Matty Ice, Ice, Baby

The Falcons’ success will be tied to Ryan, no different than any other year. His passer rating of 117.1 during his MVP season is the sixth-best in NFL history. Last year, his passer rating of 92.1 ranked 14th in the NFL.

At William Hill, Ryan is +3,300 to win his second MVP; he’s +5,000 at SuperBook and DraftKings. His over/under passing total of 4,500.5 yards at DraftKings is tied for the highest rating with the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes.

With Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Ryan has one of the best receiver combinations in the league. The running game will depend on Todd Gurley’s resurgence after the Rams dumped him in the off-season.

Gurley went from 2,093 scrimmage yards and 6.1 yards per touch in 2017 to 1,064 scrimmage yards and 4.2 yards per touch in 2019. He is +2,000 to win Comeback Player of the Year at PointsBet.

Defensively, Atlanta finished 23rd in points allowed last season after being eighth in 2017. The big addition was signing pass rusher Dante Fowler, who had a career-high 11.5 sacks last year for the Rams. It released its longtime top cornerback, Desmond Trufant, then used its first-round pick to replace him with A.J. Terrell.

Editor’s Note: This is the 19th of 32 NFL team previews and the third of four on the NFC South.