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Sports Illustrated has the Falcons taking a small step back in 2017

Atlanta’s going to be good, experts acknowledge, but as good?

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

The season projections are starting to roll in from major outlets, alongside power rankings and draft class analysis and all the things that power the offseason for NFL experts. I’m genuinely curious to see whether the bulk of analysts have the team improving, staying the same, or taking a small step backward.

Sports Illustrated delivered early predictions for every NFL team, and they’re surprisingly down on some teams I had as contenders. They’re surprisingly up on the Green Bay Packers, who they have going 13-3. And what about the Falcons?

Projected record: 10–6

What could have been had top cornerback Desmond Trufant stayed healthy? We won’t know, but Thomas Dimitroff has done a fantastic job at locking down the future of the Falcons with an extension for Trufant, a fifth-year option on left tackle Jake Matthews, and a one-year deal for Dontari Poe in free agency. Next up: extensions for both Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman.

Honestly, I can understand having the Falcons at 10-6, because until I saw their free agency and draft, I thought they might take a small step backward. I’m not going to quibble with any projections that recognize the Falcons as a playoff team, which I think will prove true. Sports Illustrated will likely prove to be middle-of-the-road in terms of predictions when all is said and done.