This article is part of our Team Previews series.
By Mike Wendt
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The Falcons have always been successful under head coach Mike Smith, who has accumulated a 33-15 regular season record in three seasons with the team, and 2010 was no different. After dropping their opener in overtime against the Steelers, Atlanta torched the rest of the field to win 13 of their next 15 games en route to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the NFC. Despite their regular season success, the Falcons secondary was picked apart in the Divisional playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
While it was the defense that let the Falcons down in the playoffs, it was the offense that carried the team during the regular season. The Falcons averaged 25.9 points per game, trailing only the Eagles in the NFC, and their success was due in large part to third-year quarterback Matt Ryan. Matty Ice had his best statistical season to date, posting a 28-9 TD-INT ratio and throwing for 3,705 yards. Ryan's favorite target was once again Roddy White, who led the league in receptions with 115 and posted an NFC best 1,389 receiving yards. The Falcons were successful through the air in 2010, but they also had one of the league's best rushing attacks. Michael Turner continued to be the workhorse for the Falcons on the ground. His 334 rushing attempts led the league.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons had mixed results in