1. Atlanta Falcons 11-5
Matt Ryan is a top 10 QB, they get Julio Jones back from injury, and their offensive line will be better with the additions of Jake Matthews, first round selection from Texas A&M, at tackle and Jon Asamoah, formerly of the Chiefs, at guard. Matt Ryan will not be running for his life again. However, they still have a gaping hole at running back. Steven Jackson is washed up and Jacquizz Rodgers is a scat back, a change of pace guy. Devonta Freeman could be the exact thing they need. Fresh legs and decent size, good enough to be an every down back. Defensively, they won’t be great, but they shouldn’t be much worse than last year despite the scheme change. Losing Weatherspoon for the season is the biggest setback and replacing him will a huge task.
They got a lot bigger on the defensive line, bringing in Paul Soliai from the Dolphins at the nose and Tyson Jackson, a third overall pick of the Chiefs at end. Let’s just say there’s a reason the Chiefs didn’t bring him back. I do wonder how Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann, who have been 4-3 ends their whole careers, will adjust to being outside linebackers, and coverage responsibilities. Overall their secondary isn’t too terrible, William Moore is a good safety and Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are young but talented corners. Even though they may be soft up front, they could be okay. They will find a way to win a number of close games they lost last season, with 7 losses coming by one possession, and a 10 point loss in San Francisco embellished by an interception TD that prevented Atlanta from scoring a go ahead touchdown in the waning minutes. Still, they are my team that goes from worst to first.