The 2009 season for the Atlanta Falcons could finish up with a trip to the Super Bowl. Although this may not be a likely story for most NFL fans, but I have reason to believe that it could indeed occur this year.
In this article, I try to take a look at an opposing fan's point of view on reasons they may believe the Falcons won't make this year's Super Bowl. From there, I defend the statements by providing reasons on how these areas of concern can be overcome by the Falcons this season.
Strength of Schedule
The Falcons play on the road against the Patriots, Cowboys, Giants and the Jets. They have tough home games against the Dolphins, Eagles, Bills, and Redskins. On top of that, they have tough divisional games against the Panthers and Saints.
Not only do I believe the Falcons can win 10 or 11 games this season with the very tough schedule they have, but I believe they can find a way to win the division (Tampa Bay is rebuilding and the Saints are just too inconsistent) and be very successful in the playoffs.
Matt Ryan seems to be a born leader who is primed and ready to make a big name for himself in the NFL. All he needs is a little help from the young defense and I believe he will get the necessary help. I also believe that extra help from the defense is what puts the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl this season.
With the release of veterans Keith Brooking, Lawyer Milloy and Domonique Foxworth, many fans tend to believe that this will be an even bigger weakness for the Falcons than it was last season.
First and foremost, the defense will be greatly improved this season because of the fact that the Falcons released the veteran players. There was a great deal of complaining from the Falcon faithful last season when Thomas Dimitroff came in and got rid of a lot of players, including Pro Bowl tight end Algae Crumpler. A year later, fans should have more faith in the decisions upper management makes.
Rookies will come in and should have an immediate impact on the defense, just as rookies did for the offense last year. With the success of Ryan, Douglas, Baker and Lofton, I have full faith that the rookies in the secondary and safety positions will have a major impact this season.
"Sophomore Slump" for Matt Ryan
The rookie had an improbably season last year and arguably one of the most successful seasons ever for an NFL rookie. He can't maintain that or even possibly get better, can he?
The sophomore-slump label will be non-existent in this case with Matt Ryan simply because the talent around him will be even better this season. Michael Turner and Roddy White were Ryan's go-to teammates last season. It will be much of the same this year, only now more pieces will be added to the puzzle.
The addition of future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez ensures better productivity in the red zone (and more touchdown passes for Ryan). Jerious Norwood will be used more often in the open field, and Harry Douglas will play an even bigger role in the slot. The Falcons' offense should be a top five offense in the NFL next season with all of the talent they have for Matt Ryan.
Red Zone Offense
Too many times last season the Falcons drove the ball within the red zone and settled for field goals.
Red zone productivity should and will increase greatly with the addition of Tony Gonzalez. Not only does he bring that aspect of improvement for the Falcons, but he will also help the Falcons continue to dominate another category they were very successful in last season: Ball control.
With such an impressive running attack, Atlanta now has an even more impressive weapon in Tony Gonzalez to help move the chains. Look for the Falcons' production inside the red zone to increase from last season's numbers.
These are the most obvious reasons why a Super Bowl appearance by the Atlanta Falcons seems slim to none to many NFL fans. However, I provide enough evidence to prove why I believe they CAN make it to a Super Bowl.