Will the Atlanta Falcons Push for Double-Digit Wins Next Season?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
Will the Atlanta Falcons Push for Double-Digit Wins Next Season?

Fans of the Atlanta Falcons have endured their fair share of suffering over the years. In the seasons since losing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl in 2016, Atlanta has made just one playoff appearance. They haven't won more than seven games in a single season since 2017.

Fortunately, the Falcons are starting fresh in 2024. The team parted ways with head coach Arthur Smith, hiring Raheem Morris to become their new leader. After two years of trying in vain to find a successor to longtime quarterback Matt Ryan, they added two new quarterbacks to the roster in Kirk Cousins and first-round pick Michael Penix Jr.

Could this be the start of a new era for the Falcons? Or will 2024 end up being a new coat of paint on a seemingly cursed franchise?

Let's take a look at FanDuel Sportsbook's NFL win totals and see how the market is feeling about Atlanta's chances in 2024.

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook, and they may change after the article is published.

Atlanta Falcons 2024 Win Total Odds

Atlanta Falcons Over/Under 9.5 Wins

  • Over: -148
  • Under: +120

Odds to Make the Playoffs: -245
Odds to Win the NFC South: -115 (1st)
Odds to Win the NFC Championship: +1100 (6th)
Super Bowl Odds: +2400 (T11th-best

Key Offseason Coaching Changes:

  • Arthur Smith out as Head Coach
  • Raheem Morris in as Head Coach
  • Zac Robinson in as Offensive Coordinator

Why Atlanta Could Win Over 9.5 Games

  • The Offense Could Take Off
  • The NFC South Is Relatively Soft
  • Easiest Schedule in the League

Despite investing three straight top-10 picks in offensive skill position players across the 2021 to 2023 drafts, the Falcons' offense repeatedly failed to live up to expectations under head coach Arthur Smith. The additions of Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson rekindled hopes of an offensive explosion with each new year, but the team never finished better than 15th in total points or 17th in total yards during Smith's tenure

For 2024, Atlanta is replacing both Smith and the disappointing quarterbacks from those previous seasons. New head coach Raheem Morris brought former Los Angeles Rams pass-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson with him to be the team's new offensive coordinator while the front office signed top free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins to a major deal and drafted his eventual successor in Michael Penix Jr.

Assuming Cousins -- who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last year -- is good to go for the regular season, we could see a major offensive breakout in Atlanta this year.

Cousins has averaged a strong 267.9 passing yards per game in the nine seasons he's played as a team's Week 1 starter, posting a 5.3% touchdown rate and just a 1.9% interception rate. The 99.9 passer rating he's averaged in that split would have ranked seventh-best among NFL passers last year while the 103.8 mark he recorded last year actually ranked third-best.

At long last, we could see the Falcons' weapons unleashed.

What could help Atlanta even further this fall is the relatively soft NFC South, which plays a part in what should be a fairly easy 2024 schedule. In fact, going by 2024 win totals, the Falcons have the league's easiest schedule. The strength-of-schedule metrics at Sharp Football Analysis fall in line, rating Atlanta's schedule as the easiest.

The NFC South's lack of a true contender certainly contributes to that soft schedule. The Carolina Panthers were the worst team in the NFL in 2023 and don't look much better this year. The cap-strapped New Orleans Saints will be forced to run it back with Derek Carr under center for an aging team. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be counting on Baker Mayfield to stay productive after losing offensive coordinator Dave Canales to the Panthers.

It results in Atlanta being the current division favorite, sporting -115 odds to win the NFC South.

Those six divisional games against pretty meh competition could be the edge the Falcons need to get over their lofty 9.5-win line for the 2024 season. While other feisty teams battle brutal divisions like the AFC East or AFC North, the Falcons' division does them a big favor. Add in games with the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Washington Commanders, and it's not hard to picture Atlanta getting to the over at this 9.5-win line.

Why Atlanta Could Win Under 9.5 Games

  • They Overthought Their Offseason
  • The Quarterbacks Don't Work Out
  • Arthur Smith Was Holding Them Back Less Than We Thought

While the Falcons' front office did check off some important boxes this offseason, it's fair to speculate as to whether they made the correct decisions while doing so. At the top, we can be excited to see Raheem Morris lead an NFL team again, especially after the work he did last year to help the Rams' D to a surprisingly solid campaign.

With that said, the Falcons also had the opportunity to hire Bill Belichick, holder of the record for most Super Bowl wins as a head coach. Passing up a chance to hire arguably the greatest coach in NFL history could come back to bite them.

After that, the deal Atlanta signed Cousins to includes the second-most guaranteed money we've ever seen on an NFL contract. We might not bat an eyelash to see that kind of contract go to one of the league's most promising young quarterbacks, but it deserves at least an eyebrow-raise when it goes to a 35-year-old coming off of a season-ending Achilles injury and whose teams have made it past the Wild Card Round just once in his nine seasons as a legit starter.

If going all-in for a veteran who has earned playoff berths in just three of his nine seasons wasn't already a bold decision, the Falcons' front office immediately made another big move to alienate their new quarterback -- they drafted Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Cousins might not be fully healthy until later this offseason, giving Penix some runway to play with the starters in OTAs and early training camp. If Penix plays well enough, we'll undoubtedly hear some buzz that he could usurp Cousins for the starting job sooner rather than later. That kind of friction could become a legitimate issue for during the season, especially if the Falcons don't start well.

We haven't even touched on the possibility that their quarterback moves don't work out as planned.

Cousins is a veteran coming off of a serious injury. Are we sure he can play up to his usual standards in 2024? And if we don't get prime Cousins this year, is Penix capable of leading this team to the playoffs? The Washington Huskies' alum was widely considered a fringe first-round talent during the pre-draft process, and his selection at No. 8 was easily the biggest surprise on the first night of the draft. It's fair to question how much success Penix will have in the NFL.

Lastly, what if Arthur Smith wasn't as much of a problem as we largely believed he was over the last three years? His personnel decisions -- starting Marcus Mariota, sticking with Desmond Ridder, prioritizing Jonnu Smith over Kyle Pitts, making Robinson split touches with Tyler Allgeier, etc. -- were certainly frustrating at times, but his run-heavy game plans helped mitigate the problems the Falcons' defenses frequently created. The team's defense seemed to make a promising turnaround last year, but will they fare as well in their first year under Raheem Morris' new defensive scheme?

That is, frankly, a lot of question marks for a team that's expected to challenge for double-digit wins.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.