Aiming for the playoffs
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Could this be the season the Atlanta Falcons finally make it into the playoffs? After 6 years without a postseason appearance, the Falcons are aiming to build on their last two seasons that had the same record (7-10). With some interesting additions to the roster, this could be the year in which they end a bad drought and make the playoffs, considering the NFC South division isn’t in a strong position and the Falcons should capitalize on that.
Draft additions Bijan Robinson (RB) and Matthew Bergeron (OT) should both be starters in their rookie year as they aim to gain experience, but will also have lots to deliver to the team as both players left their mark in college.
Jessie Bates III excelled last season at the Cincinnati Bengals and coach Arthur Smiths is counting on Bates to repeat it. Other additions in the defensive line are Calais Campbell, David Onyemata and Eddie Goldman. Fresh new faces that will definitely lift the team’s defense, as the Falcons ranked 25th in passing, 23rd in rushing and 27th total in yards allowed during the 2022 season.
With an upgraded squad in comparison to last year, the Falcons should be aiming for a playoff run, is the roster enough to achieve it?
How did the Atlanta Falcons perform in the 2022 NFL Season?
The team underwent a series of roster changes, with both surprises and strategic acquisitions. Notable releases included rookie Derrick Tangleo, Abdullah Anderson, and Teez Tabor, while key additions like Chuma Edoga and Matt Dickerson bolstered the team's depth.
The Falcons showed promising signs during the preseason, as they recorded victories against the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars and a 24-16 defeat to New York Jets. Something that coach Arthur Smith couldn't repeat in the opening of the regular season, as the campaign started with a 27-26 defeat to bitter rivals New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium
A subsequent matchup against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Rams, saw the Falcons rally late but fall short. The team's 0-2 start worried the fans, but there was room and time to improve.
The Falcons ended September with a hard-fought victory over the Seattle Seahawks and started October with another win at home against the Cleveland Browns
The unconvincing form stretched into November, as the Falcons recorded a loss in their visit to Tampa, a big win against the San Francisco 49ers, a loss against the Cincinnati Bengals and a huge win in overtime at home over the Carolina Panthers. With a 4-4 record at the moment, the Falcons were still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
The fight that the Falcons had shown in previous games quickly vanished, as Smith's men had a November to forget. Just one win in four games left them with little chances of making the playoffs. With the pressure of earning wins, the Falcons couldn't turn the situation around as losses started to stack up. A close defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers followed another loss to hated rivals New Orleans Saints, meaning Week 16 game against Baltimore Ravens was a kill or be killed matchup.
Unfortunately, it was the latter. As a 17-9 defeat meant a 5-10 record and every chance gone of making the playoffs. The Falcons ended the season on a high note with two games at home, both victories against Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Who did the Atlanta Falcons acquire in the 2023 NFL Draft?
The Falcons had a good Draft overall, here are their selections that will bolster the squad:
- Round 1, Pick 8: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
- Round 2, Pick 38: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
- Round 3, Pick 75: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
- Round 4, Pick 113: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
- Round 7, Pick 224: DeMarcco Helmans, S, Alabama (From Las Vegas)
- Round 7, Pick 225, Jovaughn Gwyn, G, South Carolina
Who else did the Atlanta Falcons sign for the 2023 Season?
The Falcons signed a few other players for the 2023 season:
- Taylor Heinicke, QB
- Jessie Bates, DB
- David Onyemata, DE
- Kaden Elliss, LB
- Tae Davis, LB
- Mike Hughes, CB
- Mack Hollins, WR
- Joe Gaziano, DL
- Scotty Miller, WR
- Calais Campbell, DL
- Josh Miles, OL
- Jeff Okudah, CB
- Bud Dupree, OLB
- Ethan Greenidge, OL
- Slade Bolden, WR
- Natrone Brooks, DB
- Clifford Chattman, DB
- Andre Smith, LB
- Lukas Denis, S
- LaCale London, DL
- Barry Wesley, OL
- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR
- Breon Borders, DB
- Carlos Davis, DL
- Albert Huggins, DL
- Matthew Trickett, K
- Chris Blair, WR
- MyCole Pruitt, TE
- Kemoko Turay, DL
- Godwin Igwebuike, RB
- LaColby Tucker, OL
- Frank Ginda, LB
- Bless Austin, CB
- Demone Harris, DL
- Delontae Scott, DL
They also picked up the following undrafted free agents:
- Ikenna Enechukwu, DE, Rice
- Keilahn Harris, WR, Oklahoma Baptist
- Mike Jones Jr., LB, LSU
- Xavier Malone, WR, Henderson State
- Justin Marshall, WR, Buffalo
- Carlos Washington Jr., RB, Southeastern Louisiana
Atlanta Falcons Key Matchups in 2023
With rather accessible first matches, the Falcons need to get a positive record before some high-profile games. Here are some key fixtures yo keep an eye out for:
- Week 4 at Jacksonville Jaguars: The first three games for the Falcons are winnable, their fist tough test is against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that had a deep run in the playoffs last season, as they lost to eventual champions Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoffs. Adding spice to the fixture is the fact that it will be played in Wembley Stadium, London. So there's the opportunity to claim a win abroad In front of English fans.
- Week 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In the first seven weeks, the Falcons only face one team that made the playoffs last season, that's until they visit Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa is the reigning division champion, so the Falcons need a strong showing so we can see what they're made of.
- Week 18 at New Orleans Saints: This game will be unmissable. With both teams having a heated rivalry throughout the years and considering this is the last week of the regular season, it may all come down to this moment. The Falcons only know of losses against the Saints in their last three encounters, so bragging rights are something to be considered.