Finally it's Atlanta's turn to take home the title
Posted: Monday September 12, 2005 4:46PM; Updated: Tuesday September 13, 2005 12:03AM
Thanks in part to Michael Vick, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing last season with 2,672 yards.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
To understand the future, you need to understand the past. (Although I don't have the time or the space to provide the deep perspective and back story.) The Atlanta Falcons have been a member of the NFL since 1966, and in those 39 seasons they've never posted back-to-back winning seasons. It's almost unbelievable, but it's true.
We went to the Super Bowl once, in 1998, and our starting safety got arrested for soliciting a prostitute the night before the game. In hindsight that wasn't the best game preparation. The Falcons lost to the Broncos, 34-19.
Of course, the next season, the Falcons won five games. So it has gone: Promise one year, disaster the next. Eternally.
This is the year that changes. I don't have this in writing or anything. It's only a feeling, prompted by intuition and belief. I've waited my whole life for it to happen. And this season it will.
This year, the Falcons will win the Super Bowl. Here's why:
1. Growth Did you see the Falcons last year? They went 11-5, won the NFC South and went to the NFC Championship game. I thought results like this mattered in sports. But from what I can tell, nobody has picked the Falcons to win the title. In Sports Illustrated's NFL preview issue, the Panthers are picked to beat Atlanta and win the Super Bowl. Those same Panthers went 7-9 last year and turned it over four times in a 23-20 loss to the Saints on Sunday. I'm confident the Falcons can get past the Panthers, which leaves divisional foes New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Both teams looked terrific in their openers, but the Bucs will have to get past their own QB, Brian Griese. And the Saints, bless their hearts, are going to be the pride of the NFL all season. Ultimately they are still be coached by Jim Haslett and quarterbacked by Aaron Brooks -- a combination good for at least seven losses a year.
2. Receiving Atlanta's best wide receiver last season was allegedly Peerless Price, who finished with fewer catches than tight end Alge Crumpler. I'm not positive, but it's probably not a good sign when a receiver undergoes corrective retinal surgery in the postseason and refuses to talk about it. The Falcons finally waived him. Nobody's sure what the Falcons get out of Dez White, Michael Jenkins and Roddy White, but it can't be any worse than what we had last year.
3. Rushing Even if the Falcons don't have the Rams' passing game, it's easy to forget the Falcons led the NFL in rushing last season with 2,672 yards. Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett are back for more, and any improvement in the passing game will open up the running attack even more.