Atlanta traded Deion Sanders, Andre Rison, the Grits Blitz, Jerry Glanville, the publishing rights to 2 Legit 2 Quit, and their entire 2003 draft for the rights to wide receiver Julio Jones.
2011 RECORD – 10-6: A season removed from getting the NFC’s top seed and subsequently getting their doors blown off by Green Bay in the divisional round, the Falcons presumed they needed more offense. Their remedy was to trade five draft picks to Cleveland for Julio Jones. Instead of using those picks on a few offensive and defensive players, Jones was treated like the next coming of Jerry Rice. The Falcons offense improved statistically but not in crucial spots. Atlanta went 1-4 against 2011 playoff teams. In a bit of irony, despite Atlanta’s desire for more offense, their lone contribution to the 2011 playoffs was a safety in a 24-2 loss to the Giants.
LAS VEGAS ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL XLVII: 25/1
DON’T TAKE THIS GUY IN YOUR FANTASY DRAFT: Michael Turner. The burly back turned 30 in February but there are a couple of other red flags entering 2012. First, Turner closed the 2011 season in mediocre fashion. Including the playoffs, his yards per carry only surpassed four yards once in Atlanta’s final seven games. The lone occasion was a 172-yard effort versus Tampa Bay, who was clearly immersed in Operation Shutdown in Week 17. Meanwhile, solid fullback Ovie Mughelli is gone and the Falcons have made it clear they want to give Jacquizz Rodgers more touches.
NOTABLE GAME: November 11 at New Orleans – It’s alleged that New Orleans will undergo a dramatic fall without Sean Payton roaming the sideline. If that fall takes place, Atlanta must take advantage in their two meetings. Last season, the Saints swept Atlanta. The initial loss was a heartbreaking 26-23 overtime loss that saw Mike Smith do his best Barry Switzer impersonation by going for it at his own 29 during OT. Whoops.
FALCON YOU SHOULD FOLLOW ON TWITTER: Roddy White. Not only will you get occasional trash talking against the opposition and views on other sports but also jabs thrown at Roger Goodell:
WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE SUPER BOWL: Maybe Matt Ryan isn’t that good. Check out the following numbers: 55.1, 63.1, 81.5, 50.6, and 92.9. Those represent Ryan’s quarterback rating against 2011 playoff teams last season. He followed that up with a 71.1 outing against the Giants in their playoff loss. Ryan has nearly mastered beating up on the league’s weak sisters but that is not what pays the bills in January. If Ryan wants to be considered elite, he must improve against the upper crust of the NFL. Those type of numbers show that Ryan doesn’t rise to the level of his competition. Instead, he wilts.
SONG THAT EMBODIES THE 2012 FALCONS: ZERO 7 – IN THE WAITING LINE
One of Atlanta’s biggest problems doesn’t have to do with personnel. Instead, it’s competition. The NFC is loaded.
The Giants, Packers, and Saints have won four of the last five Super Bowls; San Francisco and Chicago lost conference titles games over the past two seasons and should be competitive again; Philadelphia and Dallas lurk as challengers; and Detroit is a potential monster, coming off of a playoff season. Then, there is Carolina, whose center wrote a letter to the Charlotte Observer stating that the Panthers will win Super Bowl XLVII.
Atlanta’s margin for error in the NFC is small.