4. Atlanta Falcons (4)
On paper, the Atlanta Falcons had a very favorable matchup to start their year against the Chicago Bears, but as every NFL team knows, Soldier Field isn’t always the easiest of places for opponents to play. It may have been closer than it should have been at times, but give the Falcons credit for pulling off the 23-17 win over the Bears to start off the new season on a positive note since they could use it after their collapse in the Super Bowl last February.
Normally, Julio Jones steals the show in the passing game, but Sunday’s star for Atlanta ended up being Austin Hooper, who ended up with a big 88-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter after Matt Ryan found him wide open in the middle of the football field. After only catching 19 passes as a rookie in 14 games, Hooper was considered a potential tight end to keep an eye on heading into the 2017 season, and even though it was only one game, the Falcons have to be thrilled with his early production in the first game against the Bears (two catches for 128 yards with a touchdown).
Once again, Atlanta has the weapons on both sides of the football to make a run at the Super Bowl, especially with Ryan leading the way on offense. With the NFC South expected to be one of the toughest divisions, the Falcons realize every win, like Sunday’s contest against the Bears, is extremely important.