From Buckhead to Carrollton and everywhere in between, even the slight mention of the number 25 is met with a cringe. The city of Atlanta and surrounding areas still hurts from losing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. In today’s social media climate, historic moments are relived daily and sometimes hourly.
Everyday somebody has a new 28-3 meme, or the Pats are flashing pictures of their rings with the score forever emblazoned in diamonds and rubies. The failures of Atlanta sports teams to win the big game are well-documented: We’ve seen the Braves in the 90s, and the Falcons previous Super Bowl appearance go awry thanks to Eugene Robinson.
That indiscretion was the previous low point, but conceding the biggest comeback in front of the largest audience in Super Bowl history made Atlanta a laughingstock in ways even the most pessimistic Atlanta fan couldn’t imagine.
Thankfully, the city still runs the rap game and produces greatness. As hurtful as that loss was, there are reasons to be optimistic about the possibility of the Falcons winning the Super Bowl next year.
I know what you’re about to say—to mention the rarity of the Super Bowl loser returning to the playoffs, let alone the big game. However, I’m going to give you five reasons why the Falcons will buck that trend and go back to the Super Bowl and this time win it all:
- Improved defense. Last year the Falcons won most of their games based on offensive prowess. The defense struggled in the first half of the season. And Matt Ryan had to outscore teams. The defense, led by Vic Beasley and Desmond Trufant, improved in the second half. Sadly, the injury to Trufant at the end of season had some negative effects the Falcons couldn’t overcome, as Tom Brady torched the Falcons secondary. Trufant is back and healthy. Beasley is in great shape. The defense has also added several legit players. Several NFL scouts expect the Falcons to be a Top 10 defense. If so, they’re a Super Bowl contender on that alone.
- Matt Ryan. It’s highly unlikely he’ll match his numbers from last year’s MVP season, however, he doesn’t need to. He just needs to match the performances consistent with his career—with the exception of 2016. If Ryan is focused—which he seems to be based on his interviews and practices—the Falcons will score a lot.
- Tevin Coleman. Don’t be shocked if he has a better season than Devonta Freeman. Not saying that Freeman will be bad. However, Coleman just saw Freeman get paid and he wants to eat too. The two have a healthy competition and the extra motivation will lead Coleman to a better season.
- Alex Mack. He’s a Pro-Bowl center. He was missed in the Super Bowl, especially in the second half when the offense muddled. Mack will keep Ryan upright and provide the blocking lanes for Coleman and Freeman. Mack is one of the three most important Falcons behind Ryan and our fifth reason…
- Julio Jones. When he’s not losing his $100,000 earring in the Bermuda Triangle of Atlanta—also known as Lake Lanier—he’s the best receiver in football. He made what should’ve been the biggest play in Atlanta sports history with that late game sideline catch. But alas, it wasn’t to be! Anyway, he’ll be healthy. Combine that with Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel, and you can bet the Falcons will be potent.