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NFL Off-season 2013 A-Z: Atlanta Falcons

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

This is the second installment of a 32 part series on the 2013 NFL Off-season Team-by-Team Analysis.

2012 Record:  13-3 (1st in NFC South)

Free Agency Lookouts: LT Sam Baker, DE Osi Umenyiora, RB Peyton Hillis, TE Jared Cook

Coaching Moves/Changes: Gave a contract extension to O. Coordinator Dirk Koetter

Cap Space: Only $307,540, plus a $1 million adjustment

2013 Draft Picks: 30 (1), 60 (2), 92 (3), 124 (4), 156 (5), 188 (6), 220 (7)

Off-Season To-Do List:

-Build a run defense. The Falcons ranked 24th in the NFL for total defense in 2012 and were ranked 21st in run defense, giving up a lousy 123.3 rushing yards/game. The first task to complete this off-season is to build up a D line that will prevent a 21st ranked run-defense from happening again. They also need to find a mobile LB who can handle the scrambling QBs in Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick, all who they'll see in 2013.

-Bank on Tony Gonzalez retiring. He's been quoted as saying that he might come back for another run at the Super Bowl in 2013, but it's best for the Falcons if they let Gonzalez decide his path while they find a replacement for him. They're eventually going to need a TE anyways, so might as well start now. I would like to see them go after Jared Cook who will be a free-agent coming off of a fairly solid season with the Tennessee Titans. If Gonzales does come back, then the Falcons will have a ready-to-go backup in Cook.

-Break-up with Michael Turner. In the 16 games he started in the regular season in 2012, Turner only managed to pump out 800 yards on 222 attempts. Maybe the DUI charge in September threw him off of his game, but it would be best for Atlanta to shop around for a new back. Maybe Peyton Hillis, who's been wasted in Kansas City, or Shonne Greene who the New York Jets have been quoted as saying "good as gone." They don't need an elite RB to replace Turner because Atlanta isn't a primarily run-based team, but they do need a younger, quicker back to turn to when needed.

The Falcons are in good shape, that's not a surprise to anyone. They finally broke the curse by winning their first playoff game under the Matt Ryan era with a 30-28 win over Seattle, only to fall short in a 28-24 loss to the Super Bowl runner ups. It became in the NFC Championship game that the Falcons needed to address their run-stopping issues, and they need to do it quickly with the 2013 schedule beaming with scrambling QBs. If they build on their run D and find a solid RB to replace Turner, the Falcons might be on the winning end of the NFC Championship game in 2013.

2013 Schedule-Difficulty: 5.5/10

Home: Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, Rams, Seahawks, Redskins, Patriots, Jets

Away: Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, Cardinals, 49ers, Packers, Bills, Dolphins

Projected Record: 14-2 (1st in NFC South)

Want to read the off-season preview for another team? Here's what I have done so far:

Arizona Cardinals

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