Do the Falcons have a great team, or do they only appear to have a great team? It’s an honest question.
This year’s Falcons are a popular sleeper pick among those who get paid to guess the fates of NFL teams, and it’s easy to see why. After overcoming an absurd amount of injuries to key playmakers last year, the young and potent offense should be better.
Then there are the offseason additions of free-agent corner Dunta Robinson and rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, which should bolster a unit that finished in the bottom third in passing defense in 2009.
The Falcons should be better, but how much better can they be?
In the useless rankings department, we stack up pretty well: No. 8 on ESPN’s latest set of “Power Rankings”.*
Shockingly, these rankings haven’t always proven to be the surest predictor of success. Four teams from last year’s top ten, including Atlanta, were home for the Holidays:
2. New England
3. New York Giants
6. San Diego
Michael Bradley says the ranking is too low. But what if it is too high? Call me a pessimist if you want, but let’s consider the other end of the coin on some of these matters..
– The 2009 Falcons were 6-7 at one point, and admirably rattled off three straight meaningless wins to salvage a winning season.
– The 2009 Falcons beat one team with a winning record last year, a 10-7 grinder over the 9-7 Jets in Week 16.
– The 2009 Falcons will be relying on key defensive contributions from first-year players, like Sean Weatherspoon, and second-year players with barely any experience, like Peria Jerry and William Moore.
It’s easy to focus on one team, and talk yourselves into reasons why it should or shouldn’t be better than it is on paper. It can help you get through the summer, but remember that at this time, there are 31 other fan bases working themselves through the same mental gymnastics about their team’s chances. Ultimately, you’re bound to be disappointed.
I’m not discounting the chances that the Falcons have a truly memorable season. I just prefer to be surprised.