Birds on the wing: Are the 2015 Falcons a playoff team?

“Playoffs on two! Ready, break!” (AJC file photo)

"Playoffs on two! Ready, break!" (AJC file photo)

“Playoffs on two! Ready, break!” (AJC file photo)

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.

Reader Comments 0

69 comments
DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Below, earler, I suggested the Falcons SHOULD win their Division but check back before the last preseason game. Ahem . . .

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

43.86 %. that blows my mind. Kudos to Falcon Fans... A lot of Optimistic expectation.  Go Falcons.

kevkat
kevkat

God please keep Matt R healthy.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Sean Renfree should be the number 2 guys why not


He has more skill and they move the ball better with him


I want TJ cut he deserves to be Booed

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Come on College Football fans -- we did not need Gurley he has a reconstructed knee, was injury prone in college and behind this line he is a bust waiting to happen


They drafted Beasley for a need but he needs some help around him


This defense has no depth -- its a lack of talent these second teamers stink


I do want to see what Coleman can do if he can ever get on the $#%# field

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Why does TJ Yates have a job??????


Bring back MIke Vick to be backup what is there to lose he is better than Yates

freezboy
freezboy

Hummm...Tennessee to win the East Mark?.....Georgia is suppose to be the sexy pick......if there is another champ in the East it would be them... 

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Orange Pumkins not winning East. They choke like they always does. Dawgs got running game with Chubb and experienced D with Pruitt. That how you win not like the choking Vol Pumkins.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Hairy Dawg 


UGA just might find a way to disappoint like it always does


Don't know if we have a QB and we will lose one or two we should not it always happens

sacks
sacks

when the falcons figure out how to play antoine smith..they will have a winner!!

he is at his best  with a screen pass....Not in the backfield starting from "scratch"!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Mark, what happens to your future Dawg articles?

Put into DawgNation , where people will actually read them, or dissapears into the abyss of the AJC?

HotDawg
HotDawg

We can comment still on AJC without Facebook?

Jeez, thanks for very little AJC.

Zapp
Zapp

"The Dawgs should have drafter Gurley"?  The Falcons had no way to draft Gurley (he was drafted before Falcons' turn).  "Beasley is not an SEC pass rusher"?  This isn't college, he was drafted by a professional team who cares less which college these players come from.  It becomes obvious after these casual remarks that some fans don't quite understand the pros are not college oriented.  I hope going forward we (as fans) understand the coaches must draft the best players at every level in the draft.  Hopefully the days of using two first round draft picks for marginal players are over.  The defense is not fast enough, and the coverage is weak at best.  The only way this team wins 10 games is if the offense out scores 10 teams by a putting a substantial amount of points on the board.  The QB rush was weak in the game, and if we expect Beasley to individually solve this problem, we are mistaken.  Now if he can draw a double team, someone else may suddenly become very good by getting one on ones.  Most teams were afraid of the Seattle defense, and that's what the coach's priority is in Atlanta.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

If you know something you know that Gurley went 10th when Falcons draft 8th for Beasleys. That why Falcons could a fixed running game with Gurley. And SEC got most players in NFL cause they better which means why it important to get SEC players on NFL team like Falcons. And SEC teams winning with defense and that because defense players from SEC so good.

And good running game from Gurley helps defense by moving chains and giving them rest on sidelines.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Running game is why Seattle goes Beastmode on offense and has good defense. They keep defense a resting by moving chains from RB.

SmyrnaGeorgia
SmyrnaGeorgia

WAY too early to tell anything about this team. The starting offense looked great (except for running game) but only played one series. Starting defense didn't play much longer. Back up defense looked terrible, but they won't be playing in the regular season. I HOPE that Yates never plays in the regular season. Defense is likely to be better this year, because we were ranked dead last this past year. Didn't see enough of Beasley to tell if he will make any difference.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

The running game is why we should a drafted Gurley. He fix that instant he show up in camp. Beasleys may be OK but he not like an SEC pass rusher that can dominants the offensive lines. Falcons do better this year cause the weak scheduling. If they has this schedule last year then they make playoffs then.

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

@Hairy Dawg Gurley has a reconstructed knee.  Let's see in three years if he's still even playing.  And I am a GA fan, by the way.  The Falcons made the right choice for their immediate need.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Gurley knee already reconstructed so he in camp and be ready to play for Rams. That how we know that Gurley rebounds quickly. He goning be ready to impact this season probably more than Beasleys.

Mandingo
Mandingo

The Carolina Panthers won the NFC South last year with a LOSING record. Somebody has to win it again this year. I just hope the Falcons can cover the spread during regular season games. NO BETTING on them if they make the playoffs because they will get the hell beat out of them against a quality football team/franchise.


Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Falcons win the South. But they still need more Dawgs and should a got Gurley in draft. Beasley do OK but he nowhere near game changer player like Gurley. We stop winning ever since we had no running game like Turner and Gurely there for taking in draft but we didnt do it like we should to win big.

tomwdatl
tomwdatl

@Hairy Dawg 

Get over it we do not have Gurley and you have no clue what his future holds, especially with the Knee surgery.

We need Defense.

You also need to take a remedial writing class.

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Falcons need running game to rest D and slow down pass rushing against Ryan. Remember how Adrian Peterson running in season after knee reconstructing. Gurley can do that as well.

And this here about the football and not an English classes but that like pot calling up the black kettle.

Dman
Dman

Falcons first string looked great last night. Our backups however did not. I think our best team would have won last night in walk away fashion against Mariota. I thought Zack Metinburger looked better for TN. Beastly didn't make a big play but he did show some quickness and made a good tackle on a run play. Looking forward to next game...

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I thought the piped in noise sounded great tonight! Keep up the good work Arthur.

We want to see more grandkids and girlfriends on the sideline this year!

Dman
Dman

Too funny tree. In the first Quarter when they tried to do the noise meter on the big screen and no one made much noise was an epic fail by the marketing folks. Just showed how much crowd noise they piped in last year. We will make noise when the season starts and the Eagles are in town. Don't worry Arthur....

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I've had beer farts that were more interesting than this article - whoops, I just had one now! Isn't that interesting?

Mutley
Mutley

Quinn vs ATL curse, CURSE WINS again.

kerryb
kerryb

OI don't know if the Falcons will make the playoffs but your pick that UT will win the SEC East is about the most ridiculous pick I've ever seen.

Big Wally
Big Wally

memo to coaches, Renfree > Yates

Big Wally
Big Wally

Who is this idiot doing the sideline reporting?

candlin14
candlin14

Defense still looks like they are dead last in the league

Big Wally
Big Wally

LOL. Dimitroff is on TV talking like he knows what he is doing.  Might as well have Kim Kardashian on there talking about their drafting philosophy.

candlin14
candlin14

Well!!!

Two things that clearly stand out:

1) we better pray Ryan doesn't get injured. Our back ups are awful.

2) jalen Collins looks horrible

candlin14
candlin14

Not a bad offensive series. That first series looked like the Falcons of three years ago for sure!

Big Wally
Big Wally

Well, that looked pretty good from Ryan's standpoint.  Run blocking,,,,,,,,,well, not so much.

candlin14
candlin14

I'm a diehard Falcon fan but let's be honest. The offensive line is horrible, new coach, many injuries already, and we are relying on a rookie to completely change the pass rush or extremely lack there of

TrueFalconFan
TrueFalconFan

Let's wait and see how they fair against Chip Kelly's Eaglettes --- I'll be curious to see the O-Line and D-Line --- if the Falcons win the first game, that would be a fair first sign for the first four games, starting this season. 


It's way too early to make any predictions


Go Falcons

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

So much for the poll, 63 people think the Falcons can win the Super Bowl. Probably APS grads expecting their answers to be changed.


This team SHOULD win their Division, even with all their holes. On paper the draft was good in ways that should help on the field. But this team started with numerous gaping holes and we have no idea how effective the new coaching staff will be. Ask again before the last preseason game.

dcole001
dcole001

New Coach and Defense was Dead Last in 2014. Enough Said. if they go 8 - 8 consider it a successful year. And I am not NFL Fan of any Team..

Baghead
Baghead

Agreed with the pessimists.  Way too many holes on this team and you still have the idiots (including Blank) running the show from the top.  I'm agraid Quinn has so many eyes staring at him and over ruling his decisions, we will never improve until Blank is gone and a competent owner comes on board or at least an owner that gets the hell away from the team's strategic decisions yet provides value added financing.  This team is a joke, particularly on defense.  No moves were made in the offseason and the draft was a major risk.  Historically points to it being a  a complete dud.  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DawgVoiceofReason @Baghead

ZERO championships during their entire half-century of existence, and we're supposed to be optimistic???

You may need to join ol' Baghead in getting that grip.

freezboy
freezboy

@Baghead glad you got a bag over your head...Falcons being bad is true....Quinn blesses every personnel move....from the custodian...to the Pope...Quinn blesses everything....

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@Baghead And how many billion dollar businesses have you started from scratch? You don't just agree with the pessimists; you ARE the epitome of a pessimist.  On top of that, you have the nerve to call Blank an idiot.  Get a grip.