2018 is a big year for the Atlanta Falcons for a variety of reasons. First, while this is arguably the most talented roster in franchise history, the salary cap won’t let it stay that way for. Second, if the Falcons do run the table, they’d get a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at home in their shiny new stadium. (And they’d be the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl at home.) Third, if the Falcons somehow regress this season, Dave will surely relapse and, to be frank, we can’t afford to send him to rehab again.
So as the 2018 regular season looms, predictions abound. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit just put out his 2018 prediction piece. And guess who he believes will win the Super Bowl in 2018?
I’m picking the Falcons to be the first team to play (and win) a Super Bowl at home. Atlanta has a diverse, electrifying offense quarterbacked by 2016 MVP Matt Ryan. They also have a fast, unified defense built around guys in their prime. In the AFC, the Patriots feel a touch weaker this year, so I’m giving that conference to the Steelers, who can win with a smashmouth ground game or a high-flying spread passing game. They, too, have a defense in its prime. But the Falcons are a more complete team. Atlanta finally gets its Lombardi Trophy.
There’s a lot to like about Benoit’s assessment, though I think it’d be sweeter to knock off the Patriots. The Falcons are a solid football team that is accustomed to playing underdog. The pressure to live up to the hype could debilitate them, under the wrong circumstances. Guarding against complacency will essential as they look to make a Super Bowl run.