2. Atlanta Falcons
As bad as it sounds, the only way the Atlanta Falcons will truly overcome what happened against the New England Patriots last February is if they find a way to win the Super Bowl next season. On paper, there’s every reason in the world to believe the Falcons are talented enough to make another appearance thanks to having one of the league’s top offenses led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but the defense is going to be the difference maker.
Prior to their collapse in the Super Bowl, Atlanta’s defense actually put together some impressive performance in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, as the young unit seemed to have a bright future. But at the same time, it was the young and inexperienced defense of the Falcons that looked gassed when it matters the most against the Patriots, which is why Dan Quinn focused on defense with the team’s first two picks.
Trading up to land former UCLA star edge rusher Takkarist McKinley was a genius move by Atlanta, and based off his reaction from the draft, he’s certainly thrilled to be part of the organization. Assuming McKinley brings that same energy to the football field, the Falcons’ defense should be in much better shape than a year ago, and they’re certainly going to need it for playing in what should turn out to be a very competitive NFC South.