For some Atlanta Falcons fans, San Francisco's heartbreaking loss to Baltimore was a bit of poetic justice. Yes, misery does love company. Even though Baltimore's win spared the Falcons from having to see the team that ended their season go on to win the Super Bowl again, the official conclusion of the 2012 NFL season left Atlanta in the unenviable position of going into next season as the NFC's runner-up.
San Francisco was the exception. You have to go back to the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles (who coincidentally beat the Falcons) before you find another team who returned to the NFC Championship Game after falling short in the same game the previous year. Atlanta certainly faces a tall task if they want to repeat their 2012 success in 2013.
However, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the team's future. Atlanta was able to retain both of its coordinators after a frenzied NFL hiring season, Julio Jones is only going to get better in his third year, and most of the key pieces of a team that has won 56 games over the past five seasons should be back.
Let's take a look at Atlanta's top offseason priorities heading into the NFL Scouting Combine in two weeks.