2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 15 Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons' struggles in 2018 were by no means their fault. There's absolutely nothing you can do when the injury bug comes for you. Don't get me wrong; injuries are as much a part of the game as a quarterback's cadence. It's just not easy to beat the best football clubs in the world when you're down a Pro Bowl linebacker in Deion Jones, both starting safeties, eventually both starting guards and the bellcow of your backfield, Devonta Freeman. We've heard about Jesus turning water into wine, but we haven't seen the bearded, dreadlocked fellow nor do we know anyone who resembles him on the Falcons. With that said, Atlanta will be better in 2019. The question is, how much?
Matt Ryan returned to MVP form in 2018, totaling his second-most passing yards (4,924) and touchdown tosses (35). He'll be flanked by bulldozer back Devonta Freeman, arguably the most dominant wide receiver in NFL history in Julio Jones, one of the game's top complementary receivers in Calvin Ridley and jack-of-all-trades Mohammud Sanu. With a healthy offensive line led by Alex Mack and Jake Matthews, there should be no reason the Falcons won't be the greatest show in Atlanta that isn't Magic City or Blue Flame.
I damn near cried when Arthur Blank backed up the Brinks truck for Grady Jarrett. There is a legion of dumbasses coaches who fail to understand that the low man always wins, especially in the trenches. Jarrett's lack of height (6-foot), just like Aaron Donald's is too his advantage. GMs need to understand this when scouting defensive tackles. The proof is legitimately in the pudding. Choose wisely and stop drafting these 6-foot-6 behemoths who can't bend.
To get the best out of Vic Beasley Jr., he has to be playing in a 3-4. He's too light for his hand to be in the dirt. Though the Falcons run a 4-3 base defense, we should see more 3-4 looks to make up for their lack of depth at defensive end. With Deion Jones back, roaming the front seven with D'Vondre Campbell, Atlanta once again boasts the fastest linebacking core in football. It's a new day in which linebackers are smaller. They’ve got to cover and in order to do that, you’ve gotta be able to keep up with all these uber-athletic tight ends and route-running tailbacks. Atlanta's front seven should be dominant, and the team should thrive in the secondary, where it returns Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal at safety. Dan Quinn will have these boys rockin'. There's no doubt about that.
Offensive Players to Watch: Calvin Ridley, the offensive tackles.
Defensive Players to Watch: Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Takkarist McKinley
Fantasy Players to Watch: Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan
Verdict: The NFC South might be the best division in football. New Orleans, however, is still the taste of the division. There’s a shot for Atlanta to make the wildcard. It won’t be easy .9-7.