Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 6/30/13
In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons finished 13-3 in the regular season and finally won a playoff game for Coach Mike Smith. In addition, they were inside the 49er 15-yard-line driving for the win (lost 24-28) with under 1:30 to play in the NFC Championship game. When your team does that, big changes are not what is required in the off-season.The Falcons went into the draft knowing they were losing both starting corner backs from their 2012 team. In addition, they were thin at linebacker and needed to improve the pass rush. Based on last season’s success, you have to think the mind-set was to do everything possible to replace the talent that is moving on, then to try and improve the pass rush. My assessment of the Falcons in this draft is they did a great job overall. They addressed the most pressing need by getting a starting quality corner (maybe two) and appear to have done more to help the defense in the late rounds as well.As a result of roster limits, salary caps and free agency, players come and go from every NFL team now more than ever in the past. Each year all teams have a couple of areas that they—or their fans—would like to upgrade.The most successful franchises nowadays are those who handle this balancing act the best, while still coaching up their talent. Fortunately for Atlanta fans, their team has become good at this process in recent years. As a result, the Falcons are finally an upper-echelon NFL team.Falcon’s fans can look forward to the start of the season knowing their team is a legitimate Lombardi Trophy candidate. The more seasoned fans appreciate just how close this team came last year. With the return of most of the offensive skill players and a quality defensive draft this may finally be the year for Atlanta.The following is a way too early game by game prediction of where the Falcons are headed in 2013. This analysis is based on a mix of previous performance, coaching and schedule. Additionally, consideration was given for the offense returning practically in-tact, along with the changes in defensive personnel to better suite Mike Nolan’s schemes in his second year.This read is meant to be fun! So, enjoy and don't over think it.
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