Posted: 9:15 am Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Falcons not wowing Vegas: Are concerns real? 

By Jeff Schultz

Has Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff done enough to plug holes? (AP photo)

Has Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff done enough to plug holes? (AP photo)

According to the first post-draft odds in Las Vegas the Falcons are 40-1 win the Super Bowl (via Bovada). That places them tied for only 13th overall, and maybe more significantly only tied for eighth among NFC teams.

These odds fall in line with previously released over-under win totals. The Falcons are projected to win only eight games in 2014 season (via Cantor gaming), which puts them behind New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, as well as Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Chicago and Philadelphia in the conference. (Complete odds are listed below.)

As we know, oddsmakers set odds based on public perceptions in hopes of getting equal wagering on both sides. It’s not necessarily a direct prediction, “The Falcons will go only 8-8,” but it’s remarkable how on target Las Vegas usually is. (That’s how they can afford all of those big buildings.)

The point of me bringing this up is to pose the question: How confident are you in the Falcons? I’ll have a column later on MyAJC.com that mostly will focus on one lingering area of concern on the team, post-free agency and post-draft.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the MyAJC column.

Here are a few thoughts on some areas on the team:

• Offensive line: The addition of tackle Jake Matthews in the draft and guard Jon Asamoah in free agency, both likely starters, should improve pass protection and run blocking. But it’s uncertain how left tackle Sam Baker, plagued by injury problems in his career, will rebound from a knee injury. Center also remains uncertain, where Peter Konz has struggled and Joe Hawley has been a solid veteran backup.

 Defensive line: Tackles, anyone? Paul Soliai was signed in free agency. The Falcons already had Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry and Travian Robertson at defensive tackle. What they’re short of are quality defensive ends. They added 3-4 end Tyson Jackson. Second-round pick Ra’Shede Hageman was a nose tackle at Minnesota, but the Falcons think at 6-6, 310 pounds he can play on the end. Osi Umenyiora, Malliciah Goodman, Jonathan Massaquoi and Stansly Maponga are back. I’m just not seeing a lot sacks there.

 Outside linebackers: Kroy Biermann is coming off a torn Achilles. Sean Weatherspoon is coming off foot and knee injuries that limited him to seven largely ineffective games. Prince Shembo, a fourth-round pick from Notre Dame, could be in the mix. There are no certainties in this group.

Tight end: Tony Gonzalez is gone (really, this time). Levine Toilolo probably will start. I know there’s a lot of concern in the fan base about this position but I don’t see it as a pressing need. If the running game improves and the receivers can stay healthy, reducing the tight end role in the offense won’t be a concern. If the running game and receivers fail, the tight end won’t matter anyway.

 Running back: I like the pick of Florida State running back Devonta Freeman in the fourth round. He’s not big (5-8) but he’s physical and can be used as a receiver out of the backfield. But Steven Jackson has something to prove.

That’s all for now. I’ll have more in a column later.

How far do you see this team going?

Here are the complete Super Bowl odds”

Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX 
Seattle Seahawks                                  6/1
Denver Broncos                                    7/1
New England Patriots                            15/2
San Francisco 49ers                              15/2
Green Bay Packers                                12/1
Chicago Bears                                      20/1
Indianapolis Colts                                  20/1
New Orleans Saints                               20/1
Philadelphia Eagles                               22/1
Carolina Panthers                                  28/1
Kansas City Chiefs                                33/1
Pittsburgh Steelers                                33/1
Arizona Cardinals                                  40/1
Atlanta Falcons                                     40/1
Baltimore Ravens                                  40/1
Cincinnati Bengals                                 40/1
Dallas Cowboys                                    40/1
Houston Texans                                    40/1
New York Giants                                   40/1
San Diego Chargers                              40/1
Cleveland Browns                                  50/1
Detroit Lions                                         50/1
Miami Dolphins                                     50/1
Minnesota Vikings                                 50/1
St. Louis Rams                                     50/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers                         50/1
Washington Redskins                            50/1
New York Jets                                       66/1
Buffalo Bills                                          75/1
Tennessee Titans                                   75/1
Jacksonville Jaguars                             100/1
Oakland Raiders                                    100/1

Here are the complete over/unders (via Cantor Gaming):

Team 2014 wins
Over 2013 wins Differential
 Broncos 11 -115 13 -2
49ers 11 +100 12 -1
Seahawks 11 -110 13 -2
Packers 10 -105 8 2
Patriots 10 -125 12 -2
Saints 9.5 -105 11 -1.5
Bengals 9 -115 11 -2
Colts 9 -115 11 -2
Steelers 9 -110 8 1
Bears 8.5 -105 8 .5
Eagles 8.5 -125 10 -1.5
Panthers 8.5 -120 12 -3.5
Ravens 8.5 -110 8 .5
Texans 8.5 -110 2 6.5
Chargers 8 -120 9 -1
Chiefs 8 -125 11 -3
Cowboys 8 -120 8 0
Falcons 8 -120 4 4
Lions 8 -115 7 1
Dolphins 7.5 -125 8 -.5
Cardinals 7 -120 10 -3
Giants 7 -110 7 0
Redskins 7 -110 3 4
Bills 6.5 -110 6 .5
Browns 6.5 -105 4 2.5
Buccaneers 6.5 -130 4 2.5
Jets 6.5 -120 8 -1.5
Rams 6.5 -120 7 -.5
Titans 6.5 -110 7 -.5
Vikings 6.5 -110 5 1.5
Raiders 5 +110 4 1
Jaguars 4.5 +100 4 .5
87 comments
TNScott
TNScott

The only way the Falcons get better through the draft is if Dimitrioff is no longer doing the selecting. Falcons and Braves have GM's that have no clue how to construct a team through the draft or by trade.

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

falcons free agents according to sources have a C grade according to draft experts grade is a C so to me the unsigned rookies they are bringing in some are potential to be good , so falcons with luck need a miracle to get to super bowl in 2015

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

with no injuries, falcons might get 8-8 or 7-9, I see top 5 pick again next year .

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

the falcons are minus ---120 so you have to lay 120 to win 100 those odds are equal, except tampa bay minus 130 so I know right now in playoffs falcons would not beat greenbay ,  49ers, or seattle,  in there house tampa bay should win division or according to south last place team goes first next year so Atlanta or tampa bay , but to me lovie smith has something to prove just thank god tampa bay didn't draft johnny manziel  or falcons would never beat tampa bay again.

GaLatino
GaLatino

I'm hoping for 7-9 and a decent draft position next year.  If we rebound, that will trick Dimitroff into thinking his strategy is working when it's clearly not.  ZERO pro bowl offensive or defensive linemen drafted


Dman
Dman

Earlier in the year when Vegas Odds makers had the Falcons at number 7, the haters were saying Vegas doesn't know what they are talking about. I looked on line at Vegas odds and still see some of the odds makers that have the Falcons recovering this season and being back to a playoff team. All I know for sure is that we are a better team today than we were after the end of last season based on the help we have aquired in the off season.

JaySly
JaySly

hopefully a bunch of teams on atl schedule turn out to be bad---if not, it will be a long year

KennethGrim
KennethGrim

I must be pretty smart, based on what the oddsmakers and bloggers say.  When I looked at the schedule, I figured we will go 8-8 or 9-7.  I would be ecstatic with 10-6.  That seems to be the consensus.  Why the tough schedule when we sucked so bad last year? 

MitchJolly
MitchJolly

Truly don't get everyone's fascination with a "pass rusher". Guys who get sacks do so not because they are superior "pass rushers". They get free because there have been two - three blocks taken up by 1 or 2 guys and that leaves opportunity. Sometimes sacks are gotten by the big man in the middle due having to slide protection. Bottom line is that the Birds have some big men in the middle that will eat those 2 - 3 blocks letting out linebackers and ends get in the backfield. Truly. That is how it works. Osi proved it. He was fine, but teams just slid protection his way. They can't do that now. D is better than last year. 


Hageman! He has clowney size with some beef. Great pick. Just watch. Everything got upgraded. All will be fine. Vega is useless regarding who does well. Don't care about Vegas. Not sure the Falcons are wringing their hands over the odds. 

Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

For comparison purposes, here is the 2013 post draft Super Bowl odds. Vegas had some hits and misses. Arizona was 100/1 and ended up just missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Panthers and Chiefs were 50/1 and made the playoffs! Chargers made it from 40/1, Eagles from 30/1.

If you were to assume that the the top six teams by the odds listed here would be the playoff teams, then the AFC would have been:


Patriots, Broncos, Texans, Steelers, Ravens, and Benglas.


NFC would have been:


49ers, Seahawks, Packers, Falcons, Saints, and Giants.


 7 of these 12 made the playoffs, which is 58% accuracy.



San Francisco 49ers 6/1 
Denver Broncos 15/2 
New England Patriots 8/1 
Seattle Seahawks 9/1 
Atlanta Falcons 12/1 
Green Bay Packers 12/1 
Houston Texans 18/1 
New Orleans Saints 18/1 
Baltimore Ravens 20/1 
New York Giants 20/1 
Chicago Bears 25/1 
Pittsburgh Steelers 25/1 
Dallas Cowboys 28/1 
Washington Redskins 28/1 
Philadelphia Eagles 30/1 
Cincinnati Bengals 35/1 
Indianapolis Colts 35/1 
Detroit Lions 40/1 
Miami Dolphins 40/1 
Minnesota Vikings 40/1 
San Diego Chargers 40/1 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40/1 
Carolina Panthers 50/1 
Kansas City Chiefs 50/1 
St. Louis Rams 60/1 
Cleveland Browns 75/1 
New York Jets 75/1 
Arizona Cardinals 100/1 
Buffalo Bills 100/1 
Oakland Raiders 100/1 
Tennessee Titans 100/1 
Jacksonville Jaguars 200/1

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Vegas is spot on here. OL is improved over last year but is still very young. DL is about the same. We lose Gonzalez but get back Julio. I'd say we're about the same as last year's team which would have won around 8 games if they could have stayed healthy.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

The Falcons on paper don't look like much better than an 8-8 team, but I don't agree with Vegas that Carolina is going to be better than that. They have done nothing to rectify the lack of receiving weapons Newton has on that roster, their best defensive player just got arrested, and they lack depth at least as much as the Falcons do. Cam Newton is brilliant but he can only take a team so far by himself. That team is due to fall off this year. 

RiseUp
RiseUp

Haters need to go away!  Last year was lost due to major key injuries (Julio, Roddy, Baker, Weatherspoon, Bierman. Mike Johnson, Steven Jackson, and that's just the starters)  Now go back to the seasons before that and see what our record was.  As far as a pass rush no we didn't get that but, when we have a strong interior dline and strong secondary it will make it easier to get sacks.  Now We will have a solid Oline and that will give Ryan a chance to throw the ball.  I think as long as we can stay healthy we will return to an 11+ win team!

PeachtreeBart
PeachtreeBart

I think Dimitroff is more of the problem than Smitty.  Keep Smitty.  Why don't we have a legit pass rusher by now when it was obvious the Falcons cannot rush the passer?   We should have moved back up in the first round and gotten a real pass rusher, not settled on this Minnesota DT project.  It is shameful.

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

I think it is pretty on target actually. I see 4ish wins improvement from the pickups in FA and draft, but not much else.


8-8 is most likely not enough to keep TD and Smitty around.

JSSN
JSSN

Take that Arizona 40:1 and run to the play window!!!

Whiznot
Whiznot

When management overpaid Matt Ryan they doomed the Falcons to mediocrity for a few years. I'll check back in 2018.

gfw
gfw

Jeff, funny how two people can see the same thing and describe it so differently.  You say Hawley has been "solid."  Boy have I not seen that.  I've repeatedly seen him pushed back into the pocket when pass protecting.  He's looked weak much more often than strong.  I'm not grading his run blocking; but his pass protection has been far from solid to my eyes.

96JB
96JB

You have to ask why and how Denver can spend all that money on Manning and still put a good team around him.

96JB
96JB

8 -8 sounds about right. And by the way, The NFL, like Democrats love 8-8 teams. Equal and average.

tyger
tyger


Offensive Line is the issue...


Defense was on field too much...

No running game whatsoever...

Offensive line was/is porous...


Jake Matthews plug/play...good deal

Jon Asamoah plug/play...good deal

Hawley a fighter...

Blaylock solid...

Holmes improved...


Baker unreliable...

Konz unreliable...

Johnson unreliable...

Carimi unreliable...


Falcons one hangnail from last year...


Stone looks like savior...


BigAlHeBDMan
BigAlHeBDMan

Are you saying that Las Vegas bookies are more astute than our esteemed GM Thomas Dimitroff?

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

Wow.....Another mailed in blog. You basically have us, the readers provide your blog material. Just what are you being paid to put this little effort in to your job? Maybe there are some personal issues you are dealing with? 

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

I believe the defense will be much improved as I also believe Smitty's influence over the defensive philosophy has been muzzled. Nolan has had success everywhere he has been but has been hampered in Atl by Smitty's insistence on his conservative 4-3 scheme - he still refuses to acknowledge any changes to a 3-4 and it's obviously a sore point with him. A change in schemes along with an almost new d-line should show significant improvement. I think many will be surprised at the pressure we get on the QB this year.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

There are still holes, youth, and injury-prone vets in key spots on the defense. On offense, they have in no way replaced Michael Turner's production, TG is gone, and there are questions about Jones' durability. The o-line could be much improved, but Baker needs to be healthy and productive. They look like an 8-8 team to me, competing for a wild card, another good draft away from serious contention.

CitizenBrownBag
CitizenBrownBag

Well, I am a proponent of the really big and strong DT, don't know what took them so long, but excited to see them headed in that direction. Soliai is a proven commodity , so we need Tyson to drastically step up his game and hope Hageman pans out. If so with Peters and Babs rotating in that could be a real strong point for the team. In theory that should help that pass rushers, but that is quite a collection of hopefuls and what ifs they have there. If Osi is anything other than a situational pass rusher - bad sign.

Seems like LB is down to collecting  as many bodies as you can and hope one works out. Obviously they have no great  confidence in any of them . I think it is fair to say at this point that Spoon is nothing better than okay and was surely not worthy of a first round pick. The two free agents played well last year but have some obvious deficiencies.

Great pick on Matthews, but other than him and Blalock, another collection of hopes and what if's .


Still can't figure out why they won't give Antone Smith a fair shot at RB. Obviously their fastest back. Did we really need a Quizz clone? 


Who will be the safety valve now that Tony G is gone?

All that said I still think they can eek out 10 wins and slip into the playoffs. 

JackClemens
JackClemens

Dimitroff needs to lose that caterpillar on his lip as soon as possible.

scientist2
scientist2

I think the heavy (literally and figuratively) push on the DT is important and an improvement. Recall not so very long ago... Rod Coleman. He collapsed the pocket regularly and that gave the DEs a chance at a sack (and they got them) in addition to disrupting play in general. That was the last time we had a dominant D line. Look at the teams that lead in sacks... their DEs get all the glory but they are solid (again literally and figuratively) in the DT spots. We can only hope!

zuzu331
zuzu331

@MitchJolly  That is the very first acknowledgement Ive seen on the AJC fan blogs that OLB s "pass rush" and the lack of a "pass rush" was due to the interior DL not freeing up the DE s. What did Atlanta just get in ABUNDANCE? Massive runstuffers for the inside and several very versatile LBs that could play in a number of different configurations much like Biermann has done.

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

@PeachtreeBart  Agreed. Been saying this for a while now. The Falcons' problem is talent acquisition, not coaching. 

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

@Whiznot  That waht i ben sayin. The worse part is they had a cahnce 2 fix that by pix Mansell and tehy didnt. At leat Mansell can avoid sax and get the ball dwon the feld Rayan cant do that insted he get mad at his OL 4 his own misteaks.

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

@96JB  Cuz Rayan is not Maning. It all Rayan falt 4 gettin 2 many sax and 4 havin a week arm. Shuld of had of pix Mansell

DawgNole
DawgNole

@CitizenBrownBag  ". . . Still can't figure out why they won't give Antone Smith a fair shot at RB. Obviously their fastest back . . . ."

______________________

Co-sign!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JackClemens  

Along with that goop in his hair--and the sh*t he has for brains when it comes to drafting.

JamesIrish
JamesIrish

@scientist2 right if you look at the DE with most sacks its because they have a huge road grader taking up the middle. Hopefully we will have two with Sal and hag

JackClemens
JackClemens

@scientist2  And Grady Jackson before him.

RiseUp
RiseUp

@Barves_Loss_Agian @Whiznot Manziel will not last 3 years in the NFL, probably wont last a year as a starter.  He is a smaller version of Tebow.  He gets scared and scrambles to quick, and then just slings the ball.  it may work in college but it wont in the NFL.  Add in his size and it is a recipe for BUST!!! Now quit posting on here your 2nd grade spelling and 1st grade logic is giving me a headache!

dawg03
dawg03

@Barves_loss_again

Ya cuz the draft would have been better by picking Manziel over Matthews...When did Ryan even get mad at the line?

JSSN
JSSN

@Barves_Loss_Agian @96JB  

"Equality" does not equal "average!" Good luck with trying that mess! Compared to what, Boom and Bust strategies? Yeah, you love that, all 4-12 and 1-4 Smith era results!

JSSN
JSSN

@DawgNole  

Cause they don't trust him! And you know what they do to players they don't trust! They relegated to special teams and spot rotation play. Stop beating yourselves up over these type of players! 

JSSN
JSSN

@DawgNole

I know, but you're pretty level headed where it comes to Smith. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JSSN @DawgNole  

He's an FSU alum, so I'm a bit more biased than I normally am when questioning ATL decision-making.