The Atlanta Falcons were the best NFC team in the 2010 regular season, going 13-3 and winning the NFC South. The Dirty Birds are led by young quarterback Matt Ryan, who is quickly becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Ryan has been helped out his first three years by a strong running game that is led by the consistently tough Michael Turner. Turner's strong running on the ground helps pave the way for play action passes to the likes of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and now Julio Jones.
White may be the game's best wide receiver while Gonzalez may be the best tight end of all time, though he is aging a bit at this point in his career. Top 2011 draft pick Jones will hopefully help the offense become more explosive in 2011.
The defense is left by a strong trio of John Abraham, Curtis Lofton and Brent Grimes. Abraham was one of the best pass rushers in football last season when he racked up 13 sacks.
Lofton is young, talented, and clearly the leader of the defense. He is extremely solid against the run and can make plays in coverage. He should be helped out this year by 2010 draft pick Sean Weatherspoon.
Grimes is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He uses his extreme athleticism to play with most any receiver. He is helped out in the secondary primarily by Thomas Decoud, Dunta Robinson and William Moore.
The Falcons are among the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl at this early stage, but they have a fairly difficult schedule they will have to run though, so Ryan is going to have to continue his progression and become the elite-level quarterback many believe he can become.
Now we will look at the Falcons' upcoming schedule.