Time for my annual guess at a Super Bowl winner – this time the luck winner is the Atlanta Falcons
Forget the calls for a three-peat or for ‘one for the thumb’, there is always something special about an NFL franchise winning its first ever Super Bowl.
In my lifetime I have seen (live on tv in England in the early hours of the morning that is) seven teams with their inaugural Vince Lombardi Trophy;
- New York Giants (1987) – first of four
- Denver Broncos (1998) – first of two
- St Louis Rams (2000) – only title
- Baltimore Ravens (2001) – first of two
- New England Patriots (2002) – first of three
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003) – only title
- New Orleans Saints (2010) – only title
Now I am not including the 2007 Indianapolis Colts in this list as they were the Baltimore Colts who were winners back in 1971.
So why the lengthy reminiscence? Well I am convinced we are going to add another new team to the first-time trophy club this upcoming season.
NFL FAN IN ENGLAND’s 2013 NFL 2013-14 SEASON PREDICTIONS
NFC East – Washington Redskins
NFC West – San Francisco 49ers
NFC South – Atlanta Falcons
NFC North – Detroit Lions
NFC Wild Cards – Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks
NFC Championship – Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons
NFC Representative – Atlanta Falcons
AFC East – New England Patriots
AFC West – Denver Broncos
AFC South – Houston Texans
AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals
AFC Wild Cards – Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship – Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
AFC Representative – Cincinnati Bengals
Super Bowl XLVIII winner – Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl MVP – Matty Ice Ryan – QB Atlanta Falcons
Offensive Player of the Year – Colin Kaepernick QB San Francisco 49ers
Defensive Player of the Year – Luke Kuechely LB Carolina Panthers
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Eddie Lacy RB Green Bay Packers
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Jon Bostic ILB Chicago Bears
NFL MVP – Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay Packers
Comeback Player of the Year – Darelle Revis CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coach of the Year – Marvin Lewis – Cincinnati Bengals
Most Improved Team – Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest Disappointment Team – Toss up between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Atlanta Falcons were so close last season to reaching their second Super Bowl last season that they could almost taste the promised land. This was with a starting running back that was slower than a snail without an agenda.
Now the Falcons have Steven Jackson in the backfield, admittedly no rocket launcher, but certainly a huge upgrade with soft hands and a ‘win it all now’ attitude following a decade in St Louis that many consider wasted.
Future Hall of Fame tight-end Tony Gonzales is back for a Balboa-esque ‘one last shot’ at a title, having finally shaken the playoff win monkey off his back last season.
I know that defense wins championships and the Falcons defense is certainly no ’85 Bears vintage, but they have the playoff experience, the hunger and a nice blend of veteran experience (DE Osi Umenyiora and CB Asante Samuel) youth (rookie starting CB Desmond Trufant) and those with experience who are not household names but play hard (LB Akeem Dent and DE Kroy Biermann).
It’s hard to equal the talent of Atlanta’s number one and two wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The biggest problem for the Falcons is quality of depth. If one ore more of the big names goes down with injury then this will have a huge effect on the team being able to get a 13-3 regular season record. If they remain fully fit and can get a bit of luck, then the likes of the 49ers and Seahawks will be beatable.
The trend for multi-dimensional quarterbacks will not go away this year, and studs like Russell Wilson, RG3 and Colin Kaepernick will make lots of headlines, but you don’t win conference championships with wideouts like Golden Tate, Josh Morgan or Jon Baldwin.
Joe Flacco went from lukewarm to boiling hot in the playoffs last year, I think that Matt Ryan can do the same, and having the feeling of being a touchdown away from a Super Bowl will have been on his mind for the last nine months.
I raise my glass of (Matty) Iced (Georgia) Peach to my Super Bowl XLVIII paper champions the Atlanta Falcons.
Cue the ridicule…………………..