2008 Atlanta Falcons Team Preview – Schedule – Betting Odds

Atlanta Falcons 2008 Season Preview - Betting Odds
by Badger of Predictem.com

2007 Record 4-12 (8-8 ATS)

Stadium: Georgia Dome
Head Coach: Mike Smith (1st Season 0-0)

Current 2008 Super Bowl Odds 150-to-1 at Bovada.

Training Camp Site: Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, Ga.

Lets just put it this way, if there was something that could possibly blow up in the face of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 it blew up in their face.

Before the season started their leader and unquestioned key to the franchise, Michael Vick, went down under thee worst circumstances
possible. Then, adding insult to injury their first-year head coach
Bobby Petrino jumps ship midseason back to the college game. Not much
went right in a 4-12 season, which is why the Falcons owner Arthur
Black cleaned house to start fresh in 2008.

Enter new general manager Thomas Dimitroff, new head coach Mike Smith (a longtime defensive coordinator by way of the Jaguars) and a bevy of new faces in key positions and it all adds up to the Falcons being in full-scale rebuilding mode.


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Whos In/Whos Out

The Falcons house cleaning began in February and March when big name
players like Alge Crumpler, DeAngelo Hall, Byron Leftwich, Wayne
Gandy, Warrick Dunn, Joey Harrington and Rod Coleman were all cut.

Atlanta made a big snag in free agency, landing running back Michael
Turner (San Diego) to become the Falcons main ball carrier. They also
picked up kicker Jason Elam (Denver), defensive tackle Grady Jackson
(Atlanta/Jacksonville) and a bevy of various backups (11 total
singings) to turn over the players and talent on the roster.

They also resigned both Chris Redman and Joey Harrington to battle
for the quarterbacks job, until the franchise made quarterback Matt
Ryan of Boston College their first-round draft pick in April, thus
turning the position over to the rookie.

Besides Ryan, the Falcons will be looking for immediate contributions from several players in the 2008 draft class. The Falcons other first-rounder (they traded up), T Sam Baker (USC) will need to help patch
up the o-line and second-round linebacker Curtis Lofton (Oklahoma)
will start right away in the middle.

Atlanta added defensive depth with the rest of the draft, picking CB Chevis Jackson (LSU), S Thomas DeCloud (Cal) and linebackers Robert James (Ariz. State) and Kroy Biermann (Montana), although they may
have added a couple part-time offensive players in WR Harry Douglas
(Louisville) and local Georgia Bulldog RB Thomas Brown.

Offense

Lets face facts: new coach (Smith), new offensive coordinator (Mike Mularkey from Buffalo) with a new system, new quarterback (Ryan), new running back er, I think you know where this is going. Not much
should be expected of the Falcons offense this year, so the other
thing you can predict is to predict a roller coaster ride.

Ryan is the quarterback of the future (currently listed as third-string), but what remains to be seen is whether he is ready from Day One or if he plays behind Redman (listed as starter) for a few games
at the start of the year.

Free-agent pickup Turner will team together nicely with incumbent running back Jerious Norwood (613 yards, 6.0 yd/carry ave.) to try
and take some of the pressure off of Ryan. Roddy White (1,202 yds., 6
TD) is a capable No. 1 receiver, but after that the Falcons are
mostly unproven but talented (i.e. Michael Jenkins, Laurent Robinson)
in the receiving core. New free-agent tight end Ben Hartsock
(Tennessee) is better known as a blocker, but as the new starter hes
bound to have more production in 08.

Baker joins a Falcons offensive line that is considered by most observers the teams weakest link. And we all know that it begins up front with the big uglies. All of the starting jobs are open to
competition, as tackles Todd Weiner and Renardo Foster will get
pushed by Baker, and center Todd McClure and guards Kynan Forney and
Justin Blalock will get pushed by free-agent pickup Alex Stepanovich.

Defense

Atlantas defense will also be hard to judge until the real season kicks off, but its clear to see that new head coach Smith is working on a quicker timetable on defense than on offense. Smith and new GM
Dimitroff picked up lots of free agents to try and raise the talent
level quickly, and it remains to be seen how effective those moves
were overall.

Most of the work was done in the secondary, as they added corner Von Hutchins Houston) and safety Eric Coleman (Jets) into the mix that
already included SS Lawyer Milloy and CB Chris Houston. Hutchins is
already hurt though (on IR with foot injury as of Aug. 6th), so
expect David Irons to see more action as the depth of the unit is
sure to be tested.

Drafting Lofton for the middle linebacker role will be huge, because it allows their best player, linebacker Keith Brooking, to move back
out to his comfort zone on the outside. Michael Boley and Tony Taylor
give the Falcons solid depth at linebacker.

The Falcons should have a solid pass rush as well, as ends Jamaal Anderson and John Abraham will be aided by backup end Willie Evans. Free agents Grady Jackson and Tim Anderson were added to the roster to give depth to a unit that starts Jonathan Babineaux and Montavious
Stanley.

Special Teams

What could turn into the biggest under the radar free-agent pickup for the Falcons is the acquisition of Elam to become their new kicker. Elam was outstanding in the thin air in Denver (27-of-31,
long of 50), so one can only imagine what hell do inside the Georgia
Dome.

The Falcons will continue to give Norwood a chance to break the game
open with his legs as the primary kick returner (25.3 yds./ret. in
07), while Adam Jennings is still first-string at punt returner (6.2
yds./ret.).

Punter Michael Koenen finished 2007 with a great net average (38.8
yds.), and he is also one of the leagues best punters as far as
hang-time goes as well (31 fair catches, 30 inside 20-yard line).

2008 Schedule

Sept. 7 DETROIT LIONS
Sept. 14 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sept. 21 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Sept. 28 at Carolina Panthers
Oct. 5 at Green Bay Packers
Oct. 12 CHICAGO BEARS
Oct. 19 Bye
Oct. 26 at Philadelphia Eagles
Nov. 2 at Oakland Raiders
Nov. 9 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Nov. 16 DENVER BRONCOS
Nov. 23 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Nov. 30 at San Diego Chargers
Dec. 7 at New Orleans Saints
Dec. 14 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Dec. 21 at Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 28 ST. LOUIS RAMS

Betting Odds and Projections

The Atlanta Falcons appear to have the ship righted and going in the
right direction. That said, they are still currently listed at 150-
to-1 odds to win the 2008 Super Bowl, so little is expected of them
as they are not expected to challenge for the Lombardi Trophy.

However, the Falcons were 8-8 versus the spread in 2007, so theres
no reason why they cant spring a few upsets and add to your bankroll
every now and then in 2008. They could pull off a couple moneyline
gems in games as large dogs (at Green Bay, at San Diego), but they
will most likely be chasing big lines all season.

The key to the Falcons season will be their games played at home in the Georgia Dome. Home games versus Detroit, Kansas City and St. Louis are about as winnable of games that they will have all season, so they will need to win them or they will be drafting early again in
2009.

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