Atlanta Falcons: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Atlanta Falcons were born in 1966 as the 15th NFL franchise, and as expected, the Atlanta Falcons odds for immediate success were low. However, not many would’ve predicted that by 2020, the Falcons to still be searching for their first NFL championship.
In the early years, the Falcons were also-rans. Atlanta made the playoffs exactly five times in its first thirty years of existence. The franchise didn’t post a winning season until 1973, even though they were coached by the legendary Hall-of-Famer Norm Van Brocklin. They made the playoffs for the first time in 1978 with quarterback Steve Bartkowski at the helm, but blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead and lost to Dallas. Atlanta won its first division title in 1980, but lost again to Dallas in the playoffs that year. Atlanta won another division title in the strike-shortened season of 1982 with a 5-4 record, but lost in the wild-card round to Minnesota. The Atlanta Falcons odds to finally win a playoff game were low, and sure enough, a bet on the Atlanta Falcons to even make the playoffs in the rest of the decade would not pay, as the team failed to post a winning record.
In 1989, Atlanta drafted two-sport star Deion Sanders fifth overall. However, while Sanders was making Pro Bowl appearances every year, the Atlanta Falcons odds for success didn’t get much higher. The Falcons did finally win their first playoff game in 1991, beating New Orleans, but a bet on the Atlanta Falcons to win their second would not pay, as the team lost to Washington in the divisional round. The biggest misstep during those years, perhaps, was drafting Brett Favre in the 2nd round of the ’91 draft… and then shipping him to Green Bay the following season for a first round pick, 19th overall. That choice – Southern Miss RB Tony Smith – would sign the richest contract in team history… and rush for a grand total of 329 yards in his career.
Atlanta lost a wildcard game in 1995, then hired ex-Broncos & Giants head coach Dan Reeves in 1997. Reeves improved the Atlanta Falcons odds tremendously, and he did exactly what he had done with his previous teams. In only his second year at the helm, a bet on the Atlanta Falcons to make their first Super Bowl appearance would pay handsomely. The Falcons ran a 14-2 record to the #2 seed in the NFC, based largely on a decimating running game, anchored by a tremendous offensive line and RB Jamal Anderson, who popularized the “dirty bird” touchdown dance. Then, the Falcons shocked the #1 seed Vikings in the NFC title game when Minnesota kicker Gary Anderson missed a FG for the first time in two years. The Atlanta Falcons odds of winning their first NFL championship weren’t great – Reeves’s old team, the Broncos, were 7.5-point favorites – but it was an accomplishment just to get there. Indeed, a bet on the Atlanta Falcons to win or cover would not pay, as the Broncos won, 34-19.
Reeves would make only one more playoff appearance before stepping down in 2003. Jim Mora took the Falcons to the NFC title game in 2004, but a bet on the Atlanta Falcons would not pay, as they would lose to Philadelphia. That, too, would be the only playoff appearance for Mora. Mike Smith would make three straight playoff appearances from ’10-’12, culminating in the 2012 NFC championship game vs. 4.5-point favorite San Francisco. Once again, a bet on the Atlanta Falcons to cover would pay, but a bet to win would not – the 49ers won the game, 28-24.
Smith was fired in 2014 and replaced with Seattle defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn inherited a strong team, with QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, and rookie RB Devonta Freeman. He went 8-8 in his first year, but took Atlanta back to the playoffs in 2015. The Atlanta Falcons odds to win the NFC were high – the team was favored in its two playoff games – and sure enough, the Falcons found themselves back in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, the Falcons found themselves on the wrong end of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Up 28-3 with six and a half minutes to go in the third quarter, the Falcons coughed up the lead and lost the game in overtime to the Patriots, 34-28.
In their quest to get back to the Super Bowl, Atlanta grabbed a wildcard spot the following year and knocked off the Los Angeles Rams in the wildcard round. But they stumbled and lost to #1 seed Philadelphia in the divisional round, ending any chance of redemption.
The team could never recover from the Super Bowl collapse, and Quinn was fired during the 2020 season. After hiring former Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the Falcons decided to keep Ryan around for one more run, and instead of drafting a quarterback, they chose potential All-Pro tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 pick of the draft.