NFL Atlanta Falcons

10 Players Sure to Lead Atlanta Falcons to 2013 Playoffs

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10 Players That Will Lead Falcons to 2013 Playoffs

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons had a season to remember in 2012. They made the playoffs for the third straight season and boasted one of the most exciting offenses in the league.

Matt Ryan had one of his best years as a professional, and the tandem of Julio Jones and Roddy White was nearly unstoppable for opposing defenses. The running game wasn't as successful as they would have hoped, but head coach Mike Smith hopes to have this part of the offense much improved in 2013. Steven Jackson will be quite the helpful addition to the team at running back.

With the veteran Jackson on the team for young Jaquizz Rodgers to learn under, the Falcons run game looks to be as solid as their sixth-ranked pass offense in 2013.

Not to mention, this team had one of the NFL's best tight ends and an ageless wonder at that in Tony Gonzalez. The 17-year veteran was the talk of the league and had one of his best seasons in 2012.

Starting the season 8-0 and finishing the season at 13-3 — the league's best record — the Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite, but lost in the conference title game to the San Francisco 49ers.

Atlanta will surely be a favorite to win it all in 2013, especially with the additions of Jackson and Osi Umenyiora. Returning basically every offensive threat next year won't hurt either.

Here are 10 players that will lead the Atlanta Falcons to the 2013 playoffs and maybe even the Super Bowl.

Connor Muldowney is a College Football writer for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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10. Osi Umenyiora

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Umenyiora is not a guy you want to line up against if you're an offensive lineman. He had 43 tackles and six sacks in 2012 with the New York Giants. He will now join a team that is poised for a playoff run and could be the defensive piece of the puzzle that the Falcons need.

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9. William Moore

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Accumulating 75 tackles in 2012 was the most William Moore had in a single season in the first four years of his young career. He also had four interceptions last season, all of this in just 12 games, making him an impressive young safety.

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8. Asante Samuel

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Asante Samuel is an 11-year veteran and he's still got talent. He had 36 tackles and five interceptions in 2012, starting all but one game. He is an important part of the secondary.

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7. Steven Jackson

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest additions of the offseason was Steven Jackson. The Falcons will be glad to have an improved running game and a veteran like Jackson will likely be a big part of their playoff push.

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6. Sean Weatherspoon

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Weatherspoon had an impressive season last year, but can improve on his already solid numbers. He played in just 13 games, recording 95 tackles, three sacks and an interception.

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5. Tony Gonzalez

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The ageless wonder struck again in 2012. Tony Gonzalez had one of his best seasons in recent memory, becoming on of Ryan's favorite targets. Look for more of the same in 2013.

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4. Thomas DeCoud

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Thomad DeCoud is one of the best young players in the NFL. He is now in his sixth season in the league and started all 16 games last year, racking up 76 tackles and six interceptions.

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3. Julio Jones

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

When you talk about deep threats, Julio Jones should be at the top of the list. He is a speedy receiver with great hands and has the potential to catch 100 passes a year.

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2. Roddy White

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Roddy White was a catching machine in 2012. He had 92 catches for 1,351 yards and seven touchdowns. Expect another productive season this year as one of Ryan's favorite weapons.

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1. Matt Ryan

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan is one of the league's best quarterbacks and will continue to be in 2013. He had 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions last year.