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The Falcons Will Be The Dominant NFC South Team In 2014-2016

That's the prediction of ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, who gets a gold star just for saying so.

Each of the divisional bloggers at the sports giant had to pick the team they thought would be the dominant force for that three year stretch. Here's an excerpt from the article, wherein Yasinskas explains his reasoning:

I’m thinking that, by 2014, Peria Jerry and Sean Weatherspoon will be very important players. Jerry, a defensive tackle, suffered a major knee injury as a rookie in 2009 and played sparingly last year. The Falcons are convinced Jerry should be 100 percent healthy this year and think he can be a star. Weatherspoon showed flashes of potential and the kind of personality it takes to be a leader as a rookie last season. But his season was interrupted by injuries.

The Falcons should get better on defense in the next few seasons, and their offense already is good. Throw in the fact that Smith has one of the top coaching staffs in the league and that he and Dimitroff work together as well as any coach and general manager in the league, and I think the Falcons will be solid for a long time.

Atlanta fans put up with a lot of suffering throughout franchise history. But things have changed. The Falcons haven’t had a losing record the last three years, and I don’t see that streak ending anytime soon.

Forgive the length of the quote, but it illustrates the importance of young defenders and the defense in general in any kind of sustained success the Falcons will have. Also, some guy named Matt Ryan might be a factor. Just a hunch.

The Buccaneers, as Yasinskas noted, are probably the biggest concern over that time period. The Saints probably won't drop off the map entirely, either, and the Panthers will eventually be a factor. But it seems like a relatively safe bet that a youngish Falcons team with excellent staff from top to bottom will be a force for years to come.

We're watching a great team that has yet to hit its stride. When it does, watch out NFL.