Lots of folks were saying lots of nice things about the Falcons this time a year ago, and that was understandable. The Falcons were coming off an improbable playoff season and were a feel-good story. Today the Falcons are coming off a 9-7 season in which they were eliminated from postseason consideration with three games to go … and lots of folks are still saying lots of nice things about their chances in 2010.
From Michael Kun of the Washington Post’s NFL blog The League: “I’ll give you a non-playoff team [from 2009] that’s going to go all the way to the NFC Championship game, barring a major injury. The Atlanta Falcons.”
From Andy Benoit, writing for the New York Times’ NFL blog The Fifth Down:
Let’s see: Modest success the previous year; no burden of high expectations; distinct offensive and defensive identity; star quarterback; and improvements in most key areas of weakness. Sounds pretty good. And we haven’t even mentioned the stability at the top (another trait the Saints, Steelers and Giants all shared, by the way). Owner Arthur Blank and GM Thomas Dimitroff run their program with great chemistry. Perhaps even Super Bowl caliber chemistry.
Let the record reflect that Benoit still tabs the Falcons to finish second in the NFC South and suggests they “may still be a player or two short of Super Bowl caliber.” The greater point is that enthusiasm for this team coming off a (slightly) disappointing season seems every bit as great in many circles as it did for one that had seen everything break right in 2008.
Browsing the magazine rack at Kroger yesterday, I noted that the Sporting News Pro Football yearbook picks the Falcons to win the NFC South, which is the home of the reigning Super Bowl titlist. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that these glowing forecasts mesh with my own. Last month I picked the Falcons to go 12-4, win their division and play Dallas for the NFC title.
I am, as we’re all too aware, thick as a brick. But even a goofball feels encouraged when more clever folks are seeing the same thing he is. At least this goofball does.