The gang over at SB Nation's NFL mothership has their 2012 offseason report on the Falcons, framed (understandably) around Atlanta's inability to advance in the playoffs and their status as either not-quite-elite or the best of the rest.
The report hits all high (read: promising) marks for Atlanta - Julio Jones' offseason progress, the new "wide-open" passing offense, the swindle of a deal that nabbed Asante Samuel from the Eagles and the fresh blood of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. However, when it comes to prognostication, there's that glaring issue of a brutal slate of games:
Whatever sentient being made Atlanta's schedule did not do them any favors. They drew the AFC West, NFC East and the Detroit Lions, and all of those opponents will be a crucial test for an offense determined to rely more and more on the passing game, and the defense will have to keep things close.
But on the bright side, New Orleans is desbribed as being "in a free fall."