Will the Atlanta Falcons Suffer a Super Bowl Hangover in 2017?
Breaking down whether the Atlanta Falcons will experience a setback in 2017 after losing the Super Bowl the previous season.
Updated: July 6, 2017 • 9:44 AM ET
The Atlanta Falcons are looking to avoid the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.
With the 2017 NFL season looming just around the corner, what kind of offseason would it be if we didn’t talk about the potential Super Bowl hangover for the Atlanta Falcons?
Ah yes, the Super Bowl hangover. Outside of the NFL Draft, free agency and the releasing of team schedules, whether the Falcons will suffer the dreaded after effect is probably the most important discussion heading into the upcoming season — a will they or won’t they examination of a team that was on the cusp of glory, only to watch their dreams come crashing down in front of their eyes.
Can the Falcons find themselves back on football’s biggest stage in Minnesota come February? It may come down to how you define “hangover”.
Generally, the hangover is attributed to a team that lost the Super Bowl and proceeded to suffer a lackluster season the following year. Sometimes, teams that reach the Super Bowl fail to make it to the postseason all together the next season. The Carolina Panthers boasted an NFL-best 15-1 record in 2015 and succumbed to the hangover in 2016 when they finished the season 6-10 and dead last in the NFC South.
But what about other teams that lost the Super Bowl, yet found themselves playing in the postseason again the next year?
In 2012, the San Francisco 49ers finished the regular season with an 11-4-1 record and reached the Super Bowl, ultimately losing to the Baltimore Ravens. The next year, San Francisco actually improved their record to 12-4, finishing the regular season one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West crown. The 49ers made it back as far as the NFC Championship Game in 2013, but lost to Seattle (23-17) a game short of a second straight Super Bowl. It’s pretty difficult to consider being a touchdown away from back-to-back Super Bowls a hangover.
For the Falcons this upcoming season, there shouldn’t be a hangover. With a team brimming with talent and the potential to make another deep playoff run, why shouldn’t they think they can make it back to the Super Bowl?
Matt Ryan returns to the helm after an MVP season, along with one of the best wideouts in the game, Julio Jones. With Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in the backfield, the Falcons have a strong one-two punch to go along with their passing game. And the glue that makes their powerful offense stick is the strong offensive line that helped Atlanta rank 5th in rushing offense last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons have a made some key additions to an already strong unit. Dontari Poe joins the defensive line alongside 2016 NFL sack leader Vic Beasley, along with 2017 first-round draft pick Takkarist McKinley, a pass rusher out of UCLA. Couple that with a linebacking core led by sophomores Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell, not to mention Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, and you have a defense that should be a menace for any offensive coordinator.
On top of all that, the Falcons avoided the most detrimental fallout that comes with a Super Bowl appearance: losing key players. Players from Super Bowl teams often find themselves being worth more, and why not? They made it to the promised land and therefore, they’re more valuable. Those players also often want to get paid big money, and if their franchise isn’t willing to fork over the cash, they turn to a team that will. Atlanta doesn’t seem to have that problem with most of their important players returning in 2017.
Barring key injuries, it’s difficult to see the Falcons not being one of the favorites in the NFC next season.