For the Atlanta Falcons, February’s Super Bowl loss is squarely in the rear view mirror. They’re focused on the 2017 season and next month training camp will finally get underway. It’s been a difficult off-season, riddled with poorly executed 28-3 jokes made by fans of teams that didn’t make the playoffs in 2016, but the immediate sting of that historic loss has gradually subsided. Now we’re less than two months from the preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins on August 10th. Hooray!
Projections and rankings mean very little once actual football is played. And depending on the source, they’re sometimes worth overlooking entirely. But Pro Football Focus does some solid work, so when they project your team as the NFC’s best, it’s worth pointing out.
1. Atlanta Falcons (projected record: 12-4)
The Falcons are coming off of Super Bowl disappointment, and despite losing Kyle Shanahan they are still in good position to make another playoff run. For the most part, their starting lineup will look the same as it did in the Super Bowl, and if anything it could be better. Desmond Trufant is one of the better cornerbacks in the game and he will be returning from his pectoral injury. Since joining the league in 2013 he’s allowed 0.98 yards per coverage snap, which is fifth-best for corners with 2000 or more snaps.
It’s interesting how the Falcons defense is suddenly on everyone’s radar. Over the past several months, the Falcons front seven has been characterized as potentially one of the most dangerous units in football. The Falcons secondary has been referred to as “deep,” and not in the spiritual, existential sense. Heck, even Marquand Manuel is being heralded as the next Dan Quinn. It’s a brave new world, Falcons fans.
So what happens when you take an offense led by an MVP, anchored by the league’s best running back duo, buoyed by the best 1-3 WR corps in the game and couple it with a defense that should take a huge step forward in 2017? You get an incredibly dangerous team. Look, the NFL is a tough league to play in, and to some extent, parity and luck are always going to interject themselves and make life difficult. That said, looking ahead, the future looks bright.