2016 was the first time that the Atlanta Falcons reached the Super Bowl since 1998. Following an impressive campaign that saw an 11 – 5 record, the team recorded victories over both the Green Bay packers and the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the team, they weren’t able to carry the momentum to translate their Super Bowl appearance into a win, and lost out to the Patriots. The majority of the team roster will remain the same for 2017, but they have lost coaching talent with the departure of Kyle Shanahan. We’ve got five expert picks to see how the upcoming season might play out for Atlanta.

For The Win Panel of USA Today is Not Hopeful for the 2017 Season

Despite a strong record last year, the USA Today FTW panel is not expecting anything exceptional from the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. Experts Charles Curtis, Luke Kerr-Dineen, and Stevin Ruiz have the team predicted for a record of 9 – 7.Curtis feels that the loss of Kyle Shanahan will not be easy to overcome, and may even cause the team to fall back in terms of offensive performance. Kerr-Dineen has commented that a Super Bowl loss can have a devastating impact on a team, and can often lead to a drop in performance, especially considering that the Super Bowl turnaround from the Patriots exposed some real weaknesses in the Falcons. Ruiz also feels that the loss of Shanahan will have a profound impact on the team, and there may even be a drop in performance from quarterback Matt Ryan. Ruiz is not even confident of the Falcons making the playoffs in 2017.

Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated Predicts the Falcons 2017 Season

Jonathan Jones is a little more optimistic with his Sports Illustrated predictions, but still not quite to the level of the 2016 season. Some players that can help to maintain the team will be Jake Matthews, Dontari Poe, and Matt Ryan. However, Jones is still only predicting a record of 10 – 6 for the upcoming season. Jones has picked Week 11 to be a hugely important game when Atlanta faces off against the Seattle Seahawks. This game will follow a challenging test against the Cowboys, and if they can beat Seattle then it could give them a strong boost for the rest of the season.

Vaughn McClure from ESPN Weighs in with His Prediction for 2017

ESPN expert Vaugn McClure has been even more generous with his prediction, feeling that a loss at the Super Bowl will not be enough to downgrade the record for 2017. He currently predicts the team to make 11 – 5, equaling the previous season. McClure thinks that the team has an easy start to the season with a game against the Chicago Bears, a team that is still rebuilding their game and not quite on the level that the Falcons displayed in the last season. This expert is even picking the first five games to go in Atlanta’s favor, leaving them with 5 – 0 to carry into the rest of the season. Trouble, however, could come with road games against the Patriots, as well as the Cowboys and the Seahawks.

Richard Janvrin of Bleacher Report Predicts the 2017 Atlanta Falcons Season

Janvrin jumps right into his prediction calling the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl loss “the most crushing, agonizing, gut-wrenching loss we’ve ever seen”. While many analysts would take such a loss and use it as the basis for a downgrade in the predictions of a team, Janvrin is expecting the Falcons to at least match their record of 11 – 5. The Atlanta Falcons should be able to secure the NFC South title, helped by the fact that they retain what is essentially the same roster from their 2016 campaign. Dontari poe is a player expected to bring even more talent to the front seven, and retaining players like Desmond Trufant could prove instrumental to a good result in 2017. The Bleacher Report prediction calls Week 7 as the first real test for the Falcons, as they’ll face off against The Patriots in Foxborough. The Super Bowl loss will still be hanging heavily on the shoulders of the team at that time, so it’s likely to be a point where they can either find redemption, or potentially take another crushing hit. The Patriots are going to be on a high but it’s still a hard game to call, and despite the outcome of the Super Bowl, it could be argued that Atlanta do have what it takes to overcome the Patriots at home. A game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10 will also be a critical point of the season. The Cowboys have the potential to dominate and have displayed excellent form in 2016, ending the season with a 13 – 3 record. If Atlanta can beat the team from Dallas, they will raise their profile greatly and prove that they are valid contenders in the sport (as if making the Super Bowl wasn’t already enough to do so).

Fox Sports 2017 Prediction from Nick Wright

Nick Wright from fox sports expects the team’s record to drop significant in 2017. Offering a prediction of just 8 – 8, Wright could possibly see a Super Bowl hangover on the horizon for the team. The Super Bowl hangover, sometimes even called a curse, refers to teams that drop significantly in performance in a year following a Super Bowl loss. The problem with this ‘hangover’, is that it often can’t be observed, so it can be surprising that some experts still talk about it as if it’s a real thing. Wright thinks that the Falcons will take wins against the Packers, Bears, Bills, Lions, Dolphins, Jets, Vikings, and the Saints. Losses could potentially come from the Patriots, the Panthers, Cowboys, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Panthers, and the Saints.We have a real mix of predictions from NFL analysts and experts, and, as usual, the true outcome could be vastly different to all of them. The Falcons do still have a strong team lineup, and despite a significant loss in the coaching department, they could surprise many people in 2017. With the season coming up soon, we’ll all have a chance to find out.