probably not representative of the average Falcons fan

The 2011 Falcons were a baseline good team. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat, but were swept by the Saints and finished 1-3 in the regular season against playoff teams, the lone victory being against the other NFC Wild Card, Detroit, in Week 7. Atlanta advanced to the playoffs, where they were defeated soundly by the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants on the road. The only Falcons points in that loss came on an Eli Manning intentional grounding penalty in the end zone in the second quarter.

Five Fast Facts About The Falcons:

– Tony Gonzalez said he’s 95 percent sure he will retire after this season. He would have total certainty if he could be sure that PETA won’t buy a team between now and next season.

– Ray Edwards recently posed for Kontrol Magazine’s “Sexy Body Issue”. Go crazy, female and non-traditional male readers.

– Mike Smith went to the hospital last December following a come-from-behind win over the Panthers. It wasn’t the heart attack some suspected. Just a cautionary measure the team must undertake whenever Smith’s face surpasses a certain shade of red.

– Brent Grimes puts mayonnaise on chicken wings.

– Sam Baker is afraid of universal remotes.

Key acquisitions: Asante Samuel, Chris Hope, Peter Konz

Key departures: Curtis Lofton, Ovie Mughelli, Kelvin Hayden

Vegas win total over/under: 9 wins

KSK verdict: OVER

Fantasy player you’ll want to dig at with rusty hooks: Julio Jones

Jones scored six touchdowns in the final four weeks of last season. Being an exciting young receiver who can do things like this has skyrocketed his fantasy hype coming into 2012. Not that Jones won’t have a good season, but I’ve seen cheat sheets placing him around the 13th-14th overall pick. Julio’s still the no. 2 WR on his team. While Atlanta had a top-10 passing attack in 2011, it’s still a step down from the Packers/Patriots/Saints tier that might be able to support Julio and White putting up top 20 fantasy numbers.

Fanboy forecast, by SB Nation college football editor and Shutdown Fullback co-host, Jason Kirk:


I always feel like there’s something I’m supposed to be angrier about.

Matt Ryan’s never won a playoff game. That’s the Bayless-grade knock against the current Falcons, and it’ll only Bayless up in tone and volume until they win one, but it really doesn’t bother me. I’ll confess to double-checking Peyton Manning’s and Drew Brees’ young playoff records, but if you think I should be out of patience with Ryan and Mike Smith after watching them lose to three straight Super Bowl teams in the playoffs, you are entirely new here.

This team has made the playoffs only eight times in my conscious life, almost half of those trips in the last four years. For decades, Falcons fandom has felt like having one’s dick slammed in one’s car door once a year, and the later in the year that happens, the better, as January air aids numbing.

If we (going “we”) haven’t won a playoff game by like 2014 I’ll start losing my patience, but winning 10 games a year makes me pretty happy for now. I’m sorry. I also don’t get mad about hordes of yankees retaining their allegiances to their home teams despite moving here, if that further explains what a shitty sports fan I am.

Also, at some point this year I hope Mike Smith goes for it on fourth down from his own 20 for no reason at all, because after growing up on Jerry Glanville deciding whether to blitz or BLITZ based on the voices in his head, it’s kind of neat having a coach who backs up his ballsy calls by citing win projection stats.

There are reasons to hope the playoff thing dies this year. Dirk Koetter is an absolute upgrade over Mike Mularkey in literally every way a human could be an upgrade over another human (mentally, artistically, spiritually, in the vertical and horizontal and hypothetical passing games, at video games, at football in general, at parenting, in all matters of physical fitness and grooming and hungedness, at using wide receivers, in his sense of humor and manners, at not calling the same goddamn goal line play four times in one game), Asante Samuel is a fearless quarterback irritant and already among the most Atlanta athletes on Twitter (HE PLUGS MIXTAPES /swoons), Mike Nolan supplies his instant pass rush tonic, Jacksonville was kind enough to take Mike Mularkey in return for what I’m assuming must be billions of dollars, the offensive line has been patched up via depth battles at three positions and Pat Hill’s horseshoe mustache, Mike Mularkey is so fucking gone forever, Julio Jones is Jesus, and thank you, you sweet, sweet Jaguars.

Warm vibes abound indeed, but I’ll not turn into a Philadelphian if this isn’t the year. We might lose to the Super Bowl champ again in the playoffs. Again, I apologize for not taking the whole thing seriously enough.