Kyle Pitts Says Falcons Will Contend for Playoffs and 'Maybe the Super Bowl'

Erin WalshJuly 27, 2022

Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have not been mentioned as a team that can truly contend for a playoff spot in 2022 in a tough NFC South that includes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, but second-year tight end Kyle Pitts believes otherwise.

"I do think we're going to contend and be able to fight for the playoffs and maybe the Super Bowl," Pitts told The Athletic's Josh Kendall. "It's a new year. I don't think about the past and negative things."

The Falcons selected Pitts fourth overall in the 2021 NFL draft, and he quickly emerged as the team's top receiver, catching 68 passes for 1,026 yards and one touchdown in his rookie season.

When he was drafted, the 21-year-old was supposed to complement a star-studded receiving group that included Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. However, Jones was traded to the Tennessee Titans, and Ridley appeared in just five games before sitting out the remainder of the season to focus on his mental well-being.

The Falcons went on to finish third in the NFC South with a 7-10 record, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

However, Atlanta made a number of changes this offseason in preparation for the 2022 campaign. Most notably, the franchise traded veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts and signed 2015 second overall pick Marcus Mariota in free agency.

Mariota is expected to be the team's starting quarterback this year, but the Falcons also selected Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, which means he could be the team's future at the position.

Mariota has not served as a starting quarterback since his days with the Tennessee Titans from 2015 to 2019, but he showed signs of improvement during his short stint backing up Derek Carr in Las Vegas in 2020 and 2021.

Atlanta also made some changes to its receiving group. selecting USC wide receiver Drake London eighth overall in the 2022 NFL draft, and trading for former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards.

Edwards had a solid 2021 campaign in Las Vegas, catching 34 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns on 59 targets in 16 games. London, meanwhile, was one of the best receivers available in the 2022 draft class and caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games with the Trojans last season.

Despite the changes, it's still going to be very difficult for the Falcons to compete within their own division. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers have loaded up for another Super Bowl run; the Saints have given Jameis Winston some legitimate targets; and now the Panthers have a new quarterback in Baker Mayfield who could benefit from a change of scenery in 2022.

The Falcons also have the worst odds to win the NFC South at +2800 and the second-worst odds to win the Super Bowl at +20000, per DraftKings SportsBook. So, despite Pitts' optimism, they're still a long way from contending.

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