The NFL is full of teams that have missed the playoffs one year and gone on to become Super Bowl champions the very next. It is the only major sports league that can say every team has a chance, and truly mean it.
The Atlanta Falcons haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 11 years but here are five reasons this could be the year they are the ones holding the Lombardi trophy in January.
#1 – They are a team on the rise
Coming off back-to-back winning seasons for the first-time in franchise history, the Falcons are poised to put their inconsistent ways behind them. The defense has allowed 325 points in each of the last two years and got a lot better with the signing of Dunta Robinson from Houston. Their offense has talented players at all the key positions and everyone will have had an offseason to get healthy.
#2 – The Big 3….and more
When Matt Ryan was drafted third overall he completed Atlanta’s own version of the Cowboys early 90s Triplets. He joined Michael Turner who signed as a free agent and Roddy White who was fresh off his breakout season. They have led the Falcons in passing, rushing and receiving, respectively, for the past two seasons. Tony Gonzalez, Michael Jenkins and a healthy Harry Douglass mean this team has as many weapons as even the best offenses in the NFL.
#3 – One of the best front offices in the league
With owner Arthur Blank, President Rich McKay, and GM Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons front office has their own version of The Big 3. Add in head coach Mike Smith and they have smart football people from top to bottom. They have made smart decisions on draft day and added key free agents to make this team young, fast and capable of winning now.
#4 – Their division is slipping
Okay, so the Saints are still in the South the last time I checked. That doesn’t mean the Falcons are relegated to a Wild Card. The Saints are no stranger to inconsistency: they haven’t posted back-to-back winning seasons under Sean Payton. The Buccaneers, with a second-year coach and uncertainty at quarterback, are about three years away from seriously challenging. That leaves the Panthers. This will be the first time in seven years they won’t open the season with Jake Delhomme as their starter.
#5 – It’s the NFL
As I mentioned before, there is no reason to think the Falcons can’t go from a non-playoff 9-7 season to winning the Super Bowl. A young productive offense and a fast, playmaking defense has this team positioned to be good for a long time. But why wait?
Can the Falcons win now? What is your timetable for their success? Let me know what you think in the comments.