NFL Team Previews: Atlanta Falcons

Pigskin HeavenCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 29:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass during the game against the San Diego Chargers at the Georgia Dome on August 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Falcons beat the Chargers 27-24.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Atlanta Falcons. Click on a team to read its preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN



NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA


Whatโ€™s New?

Of course, most of the news came last year, in the form of a new coach, new quarterback, new running back, and so on. This year, they added tight end to the list, and brought in the ageless wonder Tony Gonzales.

Keith Brooking has left town and set up camp in Dallas, and Atlanta has brought in the effective, but oft-injured Mike Peterson. Beyond that, the rest of Atlanta's acquisitions came in the draft.

With Grady Jackson off in Detroit now, Atlanta chose the consensus second best defensive tackle on the board in Peria Jerry.

They also added William Moore, Lawrence Sidbury, Chris Owens and William Middleton, in a draft that focused completely on bolstering the defense.

Three Burning Questions

Will the new additions improve and solidify the defense?

Last season, the Falcons were 24th in the NFL in defense, 22nd in scoring defense, which explains the focus on defense in the draft.

The team allowed 127 yards rushing per game, an area they hope will be helped by Jerry and Peterson manning the middle.

Against the pass, they weren't much better, hence the drafting of three Secondary players.

The team did have 34 sacks last season, but half of those came from John Abraham. Sidbury should be able to add to that number.

Add in the players already in place like Abraham, and the defense should be better. But, it still won't be great, and I would be surprised to see them enter the top 16 this year. Maybe next year.

Will the offense be able to keep everybody happy?

Last season Atlanta featured one of the game's best runners, and, despite a rookie at quarterback, one of the league's best receivers.

Add to that Tony Gonzales and Ryan in his second year, and something may have to give. Matt Ryan threw for 3,400 yards last season, and I'm sure he would love to take that number to the 4,000 yard mark.

Does that mean less carries and yards for Turner, still the teams' biggest weapon? Will Jerious Norwood become a forgotten man and seek an exit from Atlanta soon? Will Roddy White still play as well as he did last season now that he's been paid?

The offense has to carry this team again, let's hope their unified.

Will Matt Ryan find enough people to throw to?

The passing game at the moment has two main weapons, White and Gonzales.

With Harry Douglas out for the year, it will be up to Michael Jenkins to keep the defenses from focusing on the two stars.

The Falcons also added veterans Marty Booker and Robert Ferguson, but who knows what impact they can bring at this point in their careers.

Fantasy Forecast

Good plays: The Falcons want to reduce Turner's workload. Don't worry, he's still a top three pick. Matt Ryan will enter the starting QB's group, and Roddy White is one of the best receivers in the game.

As far as TE's go, don't pick Gonzales too early. He'll be a good choice, but expect the numbers to fall a bit. Stay away from the defense.

The sleeper has to be Jenkins. He lost his main competitor to his job when Douglas went down, and Jenkins should see a lot of single coverage. His numbers could improve quite a bit.


For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.


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