No. 1 dream scenario for Atlanta Falcons: Win the NFC South
Let’s participate in some simple mathematics, shall we? Kyle Pitts finally takes on the mantle of top-3 tight end, as every pre-draft projection suggested. The defense makes the leap to respectability. Bijan piles up the yardage. And Desmond Ridder does what he does best: plays smart, mistake-free football in the pocket.
That sounds like a pretty good recipe for success. The NFC South was god-awful last season. The Bucs won the division at 8-9 — Atlanta, New Orleans, and Carolina all finished one game back at 7-10. It was both sad and riveting. A cutthroat competition to see who could get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
The division hasn’t exactly gotten better around Atlanta. Derek Carr and Bryce Young are both presumed upgrades at QB, but the latter is a rookie and the former is Derek Carr, who has accomplished very little of note outside of the regular season. The Saints and Panthers are exceedingly vulnerable. The Bucs are going to start Baker Mayfield at QB; it hasn’t worked yet, it probably won’t work now.
New Orleans is the “favorite” going into the season, but the Falcons are more than capable of making it a race — even blowing the competition out of the water. Atlanta isn’t without its own flaws, but it’s hard to overstate the collective talent on offense. Your mileage with the Falcons probably depends on your Desmond Ridder opinion. He’s not the most dynamic playmaker in the NFC South, but again, he doesn’t need to be. He simply has to set the table for Robinson, Pitts, Drake London, and the rest of Atlanta’s weapons to do the heavy lifting.
The defense, again, is the real hinge upon which Atlanta’s 2023 season will swing. If the defense remains bottom-five, then we can safely fast-forward to 2024 — the Falcons aren’t accomplishing anything. If the defense hits even middle-of-the-road status, however, Atlanta winning the NFC South is more than possible. It might be likely.