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The Falcons took the biggest gut punch in sports history when the New England Patriots came back to steal Super Bowl 51. Atlanta’s only other Super Bowl appearance was back in 1998, a 34-19 loss to the John Elway-led Denver Broncos.

In between these two runs, the Falcons made it to the NFC Championship game twice (2004 and 2012). Entering 2021, they will be one of 12 teams looking for their first Super Bowl ring. writer Adam Schein doesn’t have high hopes for Atlanta, though, listing the Falcons near the bottom of his ranking of the league’s 12 championship-starved franchises:

Smith and the Falcons lured Dean Pees out of retirement to direct the defense — and the 71-year-old has his work cut out for him. Over the last three seasons, Atlanta has ranked 28th, 20th and 29th in total D. Outside of DT Grady Jarrett, the defense lacks juice up front. Meanwhile, the secondary is young and unproven. Pro Football Focus actually ranks it as the worst defensive backfield in the NFL heading into the 2021 campaign.

Basically, every Falcons game could be a fantasy goldmine, for players on both teams.

If someone had asked this question two or more years ago, the Falcons would probably be near the top of the list. However, teams like Buffalo, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Cleveland have all improved immensely and have young talent.

This isn’t a knock on Falcons QB Matt Ryan — as he is still capable of getting this team to where it needs to be — but until the defense is fixed, Atlanta would need to fire on all cylinders offensively just to have a chance. Perhaps Dean Pees can help mask some of the team’s defensive issues this season.


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