Back in May, we noted that Football Outsiders — the go-to web site for grid analytics — had projected the Atlanta Falcons as a playoff team. Therefore it came as no shock this week when the same Falcons were named the first of Football Outsiders’ five NFL teams on the rise in Aaron Schatz’s post for ESPN Insider.
(Outsiders for Insider — I make that dumb observation every year. Here it is again.)
One thing that has changed since May: The NFL schedule has been released, and that factors into Football Outsiders’ updated forecast. Writes Schatz:
The biggest reason to believe in the Falcons has nothing to do with the Falcons themselves. Atlanta has the easiest projected schedule in the league based on our metrics. We just produced our 11th annual Football Outsiders Almanac, and only once in our previous 10 books did the team listed with the easiest projected schedule not go at least 9-7 (the 2007 San Francisco 49ers).
We note that 9-7 would have been enough to win the NFC South by 1 1/2 games last season. We also note that the Football Outsiders Almanac can be bought here or here. (It’s $15 for a PDF, $22.01 for a paperback book. I’d say it’s money well spent, but — full disclosure — I get reimbursed.)
We note also that the Falcons open their exhibition season tonight against Tennessee, although not the Tennessee I’ve picked to win the SEC East. That in mind, we close with a poll.