“Way Too Early” Power rankings came out March 21st and little may surprise you. (Power rankings by Pete Prisco) The defending Super Bowl Champs are ranked 1st, and the Cleveland Browns sit at 32nd. No team moved up or down more than 5 spots from the end of the 2016 postseason to the power rankings now. The Falcons who used free agency mostly to strengthen their pass rush and defensive scheme were put at 2nd in the power rankings. This is because of an unstoppable offense in 2016, and a young defense on the verge of becoming more experienced. However, few teams have pulled off a repeat and visited the Super Bowl two years in a row. As a team ranked 2nd in the power rankings, that’s what they’re predicted to do. Whether they’re going to do the improbable or have a down year is tough to predict at this point in the offseason. They certainly have the talent, but it was thought Carolina had the talent to repeat Super Bowl appearances going into the 2016 season. The question all Atlanta fans have pondered after the crushing Super Bowl loss: Will Atlanta be able to do the same thing back to back years?
It CAN Happen: Offensively, we all know Atlanta had a year for the record books last year. They finished 7th all-time in points scored and second all-time in games with 40+ points scored. This was not simply “luck,” Atlanta’s future has offensive success written all over it. Matt Ryan seems to have reached elite status, and there may be no turning back from him. Ryan’s threats at WR are arguably the strongest in the league, and between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman the running game isn’t expected to fall off either. The O-line was also top 10 in the league. As much as the offense is expected to be great, it still is hard to expect as great a year as last year. That’s why the defense must improve. Towards the end of the year, Atlanta’s D was on the upward trend. In the postseason they completely stumped Green Bay and proceeded to give up only 3 points In the first half against the Patriots. The major thing lacking in the defense? The pass rush. That’s why Atlanta signed Jack Crawford and Dontari Poe in free agency. Now that everything seems to have fallen into place, who says the Falcons can’t pull off back to back Super Bowl appearances, or maybe even win one this time!
It WON’T Happen: Defense takes you to championships. Defense can even win you a championship. (Denver Broncos 2015) Arguably, the Falcon’s won’t make another run at the Lombardi Trophy because there’s still holes in the defense. The secondary and run defense lacked last year, and who knows if two free agent signings can provide the answer to the pass rush. A young defense, and an offense that will likely have a let down from the 2016 year is not always the answer for back to back Super Bowl appearances. Few teams in the history of the NFL have pulled it off. It’s good to keep your hopes up Atlanta fans, but if you’re heavily expecting for the 2017/2018 season to be Atlanta’s year, you may end up as disappointed as you were after the Super Bowl.
Image 1 citation: Porter, Andrew. Super Bowl 51. Digital image. CBS Philly. N.p., n.d. Web.
Image 2 citation: Fast Philly Sports. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.