The Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 3rd quarter lead in the Super Bowl, lost in overtime, but essentially return the same team in 2017.
The only player of consequence they lost was Dwight Freeney, a defensive end who was 36-years old last season and had three sacks.
So the Falcons, with the MVP (Matt Ryan), a dynamic pair of running backs (Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman) an elite receiver (Julio Jones), and a beastly defensive end (Vic Beasley) are headed back to the Super Bowl, right?
On paper, yes. History says otherwise. Over the last decade, here are your Super Bowl losers. Three missed the playoffs, and four lost in their first playoff game. None got back to the Super Bowl. Reminder: None of the teams blew the biggest lead in Super Bowl history.
2017 Falcons ?
2016 Carolina Panthers 6-10, no playoffs
2015 Seattle Seahawks, 10-6, lost in 2nd round of playoffs
2014 Denver Broncos, 12-4, lost in 1st playoff game
2013 San Francisco 49ers, 12-4, lost in NFC title game
2012 New England Patriots, 12-4, lost in AFC title game
2011 Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-4, lost in 1st round of playoffs
2010 Indianapolis Colts, 10-6 lost in 1st round of playoffs
2009 Arizona Cardinals, 10-6, lost in 1st playoff game
2008 New England Patriots, 11-5, no playoffs
2007 Chicago Bears 7-9, no playoffs
The last team to lose the Super Bowl and get back there the following year? The Buffalo Bills, who lost in 1991 to the Giants 20-19, then lost to the Redskins 37-24 the following year. They actually reached the final game four years in a row, but lost ’em all, losing to the Cowboys in 1993 in a 52-17 laugher, and then 30-13.
Only two teams this century have gotten to back-to-back Super Bowls: The 2014 and 2015 Seahawks (thumped Denver 43-8; memorably lost to New England, 28-24; and the 2004 and 2005 Patriots (beat the Panthers and Eagles).
Atlanta’s 1st place schedule is rough – four of their first six games are against playoff teams from 2016; there’s the rare 3-straight-road-games test (Patriots, Jets, Panthers); and in consecutive weeks in November, they face the Cowboys and Seahawks.
Also, they’ll incorporate new offensive and defensive coordinators.
Super Bowl hangovers are real: Take the under 11 wins for the Falcons.