NFL betting handicappers and odds makers have made Atlanta as the top NFL gambling choice to potentially upset the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South Division.
Head coach Mike Smith arrived for the 2008 season and inherited a dispirited franchise that was wrecked by the Michael Vick disaster and a mere shell of the team that was in and out of the playoffs before imploding in 2007. Smith was a near anonymous figure that seemed to be a choice that was as plain and bland as his name.
By the end of 2008, however, Smith won over the skeptical public and gambling community by leading the Falcons into the playoffs. He has a two year record of 20-12 and the city of Atlanta believing in the team.
Atlanta won 11 games in 2008 and 9 last year. Smith did a masterful job of keeping the team in contention for 2009 as the Falcons were plagued with the injury bug.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has developed into one of the best and figures to have his strongest season yet with a more healthy, experienced, and confident team surrounding him.
The Falcons are one of the second tier favorites after Dallas, Minnesota, Green Bay, and New Orleans with the NFL preseason odds to make the Super Bowl.
Atlanta has had brief flashes of brilliance surrounded by plenty of failure in their history since joining the NFL as an expansion team in 1966. Many believe that Smith, Ryan & Co are set for a breakout campaign in which they could rack up big profits with the football odds this year.
Much like a college team, Atlanta thinks that Smith’s third year on the job could have them ready to peak. The coach sees it that way.
“We think of them as third year players chronologically,” said Smith. “But in terms of experience they’re way beyond their third year. The number of snaps these guys have participated in are a lot more than most third year players, and I think that’s why expectations for them continue their process of learning what we’re trying to do, that the arrow’s way up.”