Falcons 2020 Betting Record
Point Spread: 7-9
Looking to improve from back-to-back 7-9 seasons, the Atlanta Falcons yearned for the years before those where, at least, they made the playoffs (and that infamous Super Bowl loss for which they don’t like to be reminded). Head coach Dan Quinn resumed duties for his sixth season, and, for the most part, the core of the team returned intact with Matt Ryan at quarterback.
The sportsbook markets didn’t bestow confidence in that hope though, as their season win-loss total was set at 7½, their Super Bowl odds were a longer-shot 50-1 at the beginning of the year.
Those projections, it turned out, were overly generous.
They lost their home opener to the Seattle Seahawks, in which they were slight favorites, by nearly two touchdowns. At the time, the Seahawks’ defense would give up historic passing yards — in this case, 450 of them to Ryan — but still managed to lose 38-25.
The following week, the Falcons took a 29-10 lead over the Cowboys into the half, and then proceeded to be outscored 27-10, capped by a Dallas touchdown with just 1:49 left in the game. The ensuing onside kick, recovered by the Cowboys in the headline highlight-reel blooper play that Sunday, saw three Falcons hypnotized by the watermelon kick spinning before them. The recovery led to Dallas’ game-winning field goal and the Falcon’s 0-2 start.
They dropped the next two games as well: the first, an upset to the Chicago Bears at home, 30-26, and the second a 30-16 beating at the hands of the Packers in Lambeau. It marked their worst start in two decades. (They did keep with the league-wide trend of the opening quarter of the season in high-scoring, poor defense teams who cash the over, going 3-1.)
Point Spread: 1-3
In Week 5, Atlanta dropped to an 0-5 record after losing at home to the Panthers, 23-16. Practically fired in the tunnel after the game, Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were dismissed (to a certain amount of criticism). Coaching duties were handed to defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
Morris’ presence (or the lack of Quinns’) led to an inspired 40-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, at least ensuring that the season wouldn’t match their historically bad start of 1996 (in which they opened 0-8).
The next game defined the Falcons’ spirit of being able to pull a loss from the clutches of victory. Trailing the Detroit Lions by two points with only 1:12 left in the game, Atlanta earned a critical first down at the Lions’ ten-yard line. Needing only to run a couple of clock-killing plays (as the Lions were out of timeouts) and kick a game-winning field-goal chipshot, Todd Gurley screwed up, slipping past the goal line and scoring a touchdown. In giving possession back to the Lions, Detroit would score the game-winning touchdown as the clock expired.
To their credit, they managed to rebound from such a loss the following week, extracting revenge on the Panthers, 25-17, for the earlier loss in the season in their rematch.
Point Spread: 2-2
Looking to give purpose to their now 2-6 season, the team voiced support for interim coach Morris, and rumors emerged that the team would consider him for the upcoming season based on how he finished this one. This time, they responded by holding on to their lead long enough to win over the Broncos 34-27.
They would go on to drop both games in their series against the then Taysom-Hill led Saints. Though they were slight underdogs in each of the match ups, they managed to keep one close, while getting blown out in the other.
The highlight of 2020 may have been the 43-6 slapdown they gave to the Las Vegas Raiders, the result of the Falcons’ defense forcing five turnovers. That victory, which moved them to a 4-7 record, stood as the peak of optimism for the season.
Point Spread: 2-2
With the second loss to the Saints, the Falcons faced a must-win scenario for what would have been the rest of the season — if they didn’t resolve the matter that first week by losing to the Chargers when Matt Ryan threw two fourth-quarter interceptions. The particularly heartbreaking loss on a last-second field goal also eliminated them from the playoffs
Left to play out the string, the Falcons afforded coach Morris no further success against some unfortunately tough, scheduled competition of Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (twice), in all instances needing a win for playoff position. The first two of which they covered the point spread, but unceremoniously ended the season with a 44-27 beating in Tampa Bay.
Point Spread: 2-2
Divisional Record: 1-5
Conference Record: 2-10
Full Season Grade: C
Looking Ahead to Next Season
The Falcons spend the offseason in the unenviable position of lots of needs and not much money to be able to do much about it. They are in the fourth-worst team in the league in regard to cap space. To the benefit, the only glaring free-agent issue with which they’ll contend is RB Todd Gurley.
They’ll be picking fourth overall, but have needs at practically all the skill positions, especially tight end, and even quarterback. Certainly, they’ll be rolling again with Matt Ryan, but will soon be considering his retirement. On defense, the team direly needs a better edge rush and linebackers, as well as help at both positions in the secondary.
The desire to point out how defensive tackle Grady Jarrett made the Pro Bowl underlies the fact that the best weapon on the Falcons at the current time is kicker Younghoe Koo. Atlanta faces one of the barest cupboards among NFL teams coming back into 2021.
Predicted Record for 2021 Season: 5-11
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