One of the great things about the NFL is the perception (real or not) that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl every year. The optimism is rampant among training camps and OTAs. This is not the case in other major sports and it’s one of the reasons the NFL is the King Kong of the American sporting world.
For Falcons’ fans, this optimism is directly connected to seeing division rival, New Orleans, go from 8-8 to Super Bowl champions in one season. There are a lot of parallels between the Saints and the Falcons so there is evidence to support the excitement.
Hit the jump for more Falcons’ goodness.
With Matt Ryan throwing to Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White and Michael Turner running the ball, Atlanta has all the pieces to put together a remarkable offensive year. It’s the defense that needs to improve if the Falcons ever with to hoist the Lombardi trophy.
Over the last eight seasons, there have been six Super Bowl champions. I looked at how each team ranked in total offense and total defense in the year they won it all.
Now we review how the Falcons have done in those same eight seasons.
As we can see the offense is almost there. Three times in eight seasons, they have actually had better offense than the eventual Super Bowl champion, but only once (last season) did they have a better defense.
It’s interesting that only three times in the last eight seasons has a team with a top-rated offense or defense won the Super Bowl.
The average ranks (13th offense, 9th defense) are not that impressive and the delta between the two are surprisingly wide. Only the 2004 Patriots had an offense and defense ranked within five spots.
The more common champion had a terrific offense and horrible defense (Saints in 2009, Colts in 2006) or the reverse (Steelers in 2008, Buccaneers in 2002).
Digging further we can see that only three champions had a top 10 offense since 2002. Whereas six of the eight champs had a top 10 defense.
One thing’s for sure. You better have a top 10 offense OR defense if you want to be the last team standing. The Falcons have only done that once since 2002
Obviously there are a lot of ways a teams can win a Super Bowl, but the defense playing better will go a long way toward bringing Atlanta it’s first Super Bowl championship.