What is a Power Rating?
Before this Atlanta Falcons team preview begins, it’s important to note the purpose behind power ratings. Like power rankings, power ratings give NFL handicappers a foundational datapoint on every team to prepare for the season. Most handicappers use their power ratings to either determine or support where they would place the lines each week. For the sake of this article, you’ll see that I use a 0-100 power rating model. These ratings are not akin to grade-school; a 93 is not an A, and a 47 is not failing. I use a 100-point scale for more nuance and, most importantly, to grade the disparity between NFL teams. Every ten points count as one point of line value. In this case, a team with an 85 rating would be four points better than a team with a 45 rating on a neutral field.
Conversely, power ratings should not be used as biblical truth. They should evolve throughout the season and act as a rubric for your wagers. I use six factors: Coaching, Starting QB, Offense, Defense, Leadership/Chemistry, and Consistency/Toughness. These ratings and write-ups can be beneficial as we navigate the season. However, they are not the final word on where these teams stand. Every game requires unique, holistic research, and every matchup has its own confluence of factors to consider when handicapping. Those factors include motivation, schedule spot, rivalry value, weather, injuries, incentives, and more. Power ratings are best applied as an objective, neutral analysis of a given team so that we’re approaching our wagers with a foundation of knowledge and thoughtful perspective.
I have already released team previews for the Vikings and Dolphins, which I’d recommend read through too. Ryan, our other Head of Betting also released an in-depth article previewing five teams with dynamically changing expectations.
Current Projected Win Total: 4.5
Schedule Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Power Rating: 24
Most NFL team previews require a ton of contextual verbiage to encapsulate all that a team is, from micro to macro, and all that they could be in the season to come. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons probably won’t require as much explanation. Second-year head coach Arthur Smith has a lot of miracle-making to accomplish in 2022. On paper, he’s equipped with some of the most inferior talent in the league. Let’s start with the offense.
The Quarterback Situation
In their last year with veteran, Super Bowl-experienced QB Matt Ryan, the Falcons were 26th in points per game, 29th in yards per game, 19th in yards per pass, and 20th in QB sack percentage (meaning they were among the thirteen worst in that category). Behind a workhorse, dynamic “running back” in Cordarelle Patterson, their run game was even worse. After sending Matt Ryan to the Colts, Atlanta chose to reset their franchise and embrace a new, hopeful future. We’re just not seeing where the optimism will come from. Second-year tight end, the super-athletic Kyle Pitts, provides the best pass-catching option for the Falcons’ new starting QB, Marcus Mariota. Mariota showed some promise as the Raiders’ backup thrower last year, seemingly motivated to outperform his doubters. But he hasn’t been a starter for two seasons now and his passing prowess is questionable, at best.
Tight end Kyle Pitts may be the only player to watch on what could be a dismal Falcons offense.
The Offense Overall
Even if he’s somehow vastly superior than his previous subpar starting gig as a Titan, Mariota has perhaps the NFL’s worst group of WRs this writer has ever seen: first round draft pick Drake London, Bryan Edwards, and Olamide Zaccheaus… ahem. On top of all that (as if that wasn’t enough), their offensive line ranks among the weakest in the NFL. Veterans Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom lead the group, but most of their offensive line is perpetually underwhelming, young, inexperienced, or all three. Third-round draft pick QB Desmond Ridder has potential as a future NFL QB, and the aforementioned Drake London has the size and ability to become an exceptional receiver. But those are about the only positives I can extract from this Falcons’ offense – insert nervous blue face emoji.
The Defense Overall
You guessed it, we also don’t think their defense will improve very much. That’s especially true with the inevitable pressure that’ll come from an offense that (literally) might never hold a lead in 2022. Check out any statistic about their defense last year and they’re a bottom-ten or bottom-five defense in nearly every category. They drafted well by grabbing Arnold Ebiketie, a freak athlete out of Penn State, with the 38th overall pick. Ebiketie could make a big difference for a defensive line that only had 18 sacks last season; P.S. that’s 11 fewer sacks than the 31st ranked Eagles. They added depth in Lorenzo Carter, an average linebacker from NYG, while Casey Hayward, AJ Terrell, and Grady Jarrett are the stars on an otherwise shallow defense.
Win Total Lean
Unfortunately, the talent-heavy Bucs and Saints are in the Falcons’ division and their schedule is difficult. They’re also full of new talent who’ve never played together before, their head coach has zero credentials to suggest he can maximize the little talent they have, and there’s little to no reason to believe they’ll come close to finding five wins this year. For my money, this is the poorest franchise in the NFL entering 2022, from top to bottom, and I’ll gladly take under 4.5 wins on the squad from A-Town.