4 bold predictions for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019
The Atlanta Falcons won just seven games and missed the playoff this past year in what was their most underwhelming season in a few years. But there is some hope surrounding the Falcons going into 2019.
With an explosive offense and a defense that is getting healthier, Atlanta could be a force to be reckoned with in 2019.
Could the Falcons make it back the playoffs? They very well might, as they should be better than they were this past year, and outside of the New Orleans Saints, the NFC South has a whole lot of question marks.
So, here are four bold predictions for the Falcons in 2019:
4. They Will Have Two 1,000-Yard Receivers
We know that as long as Julio Jones is healthy, he is essentially a shoo-in for 1,000 yards, but now, the Falcons may have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers on their roster with Calvin Ridley in tow.
Ridley had a terrific rookie year, hauling in 64 receptions for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now entering his second season, Ridley will probably earn even more targets from Matt Ryan, so expect a bump in his numbers.
As a matter of fact, Ridley was so impressive in 2018 that the Falcons actually considered trading away Mohamed Sanu this offseason, so that right there tells you that Atlanta is anticipating big things from Ridley in 2019.
3. Ito Smith Will Emerge as a Big Playmaker
The Falcons lost Tevin Coleman this offseason, and with Devonta Freeman on the mend from groin surgery, their ground game is in a bit of flux at the moment.
That’s why Atlanta may end up leaning heavily on second-year running back Ito Smith, who had a rough rookie year in 2018.
But here’s the thing: Smith was a monster at Southern Mississippi, posting three straight 1,000-yard seasons to end his collegiate career. Not only that, but he caught at least 40 passes in each of his last three NCAA seasons, so he has some versatility to his game.
Now that Smith is the clear No. 2 back behind Freeman expect him to get a lot of touches in 2019, and expect him to make the most of them.
2. The Falcons Will Extend Julio Jones Before the Season
This has been discussed for quite some time, as negotiations between the Falcons and Jones are coming along slowly but surely.
The reserved Jones has been a good soldier throughout the entire process, and the thought here is that Atlanta will reward his loyalty and his patience by finally paying up before the season starts.
Jones is arguably the best receiver in football and is coming off of a monster 2018 campaign in which he hauled in 113 receptions for 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns, and seeing as how he has consistently posted those types of numbers throughout his career, there is no reason why the Falcons shouldn’t extend him, even at age 30.
1. Atlanta Will Make the Playoffs
The Falcons have a pretty high ceiling entering 2019. Of course, there are also a lot of drawbacks to this team, like their defense still lacking and their running game in question, but if these things break right, Atlanta can be really, really good.
Right now, I have the Cowboys, Bears, Saints, Rams, Packers, and Falcons as the six playoff teams in the NFC.
The good news for Atlanta is that the NFC does not have the ridiculous depth of the AFC, so nine wins could very well end up landing them a playoff spot this year.
Of course, given all of the talent the Falcons have, there is an excellent chance they end up posting double-digit victories, especially if linebacker Deion Jones comes back healthy on the defensive end.