Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
NFL Training camp season is always a time for irrational exuberance. Every team thinks it can win the Super Bowl, even though 31 of those teams will end being horribly wrong. And so, to preview the upcoming NFL season, which could be the most unpredictable ever, we now give you five reasons why your favorite team could win the Super Bowl. Today, it's the Atlanta Falcons.
1. You pay that much to get Julio Jones, he better get you a title. Oh, how they laughed at Falcons GM Tom Dimitroff for trading five draft picks (plus next year's first rounder!) to Cleveland in order to draft Julio Jones. No one's supposed to trade up in the draft anymore. And the Falcons already have an excellent #1 wideout in Roddy White. What were they thinking? Why go all in for a rookie wideout when rookie wideouts have such a spotty track record? HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE MAD?
Turns out, Dimitroff may have been stupid like a fox. With White already the top guy, Jones will be able to see one-on-one coverage right off the bat, which is good because he's quite the physical specimen. Also, the new CBA makes the top half of the draft a far more desirable place to be than be before. Jones' contract with Atlanta was for four years, $16.2 million. That's nothing. There will be a whole lot more trading up in the draft from now on, and Dimitroff was just bright enough to get on board early.
2. You don't get owned at home in the playoffs on national TV without having a chip on your shoulder. Wow, did you see Atlanta get absolutely crushed by Aaron Rodgers last January? I mean, holy smokes. Can you imagine getting that thoroughly humiliated in front of everyone, including your friends and family? Can you picture your father in the stands, muttering with disgust as your team gives up 366 yards to Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack? HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF KNOWING YOU WERE EMASCULATED IN SUCH A PUBLIC WAY? I'm just saying I think the Falcons will be kinda mad.
3. Ray Edwards is here for your sacking pleasure. Former Viking Ray Edwards isn't an all-world defensive end, he just happens to play like one if he's fortunate to suit up alongside a DE of similar or greater ability. And lo and behold, the Falcons have John Abraham already in place to serve as a nice bookend and give Edwards the support he needs. After getting killed by the Packers, the Falcons needed a better pass rush, and now they have one. The secondary still has issues, but at least the front is stronger.
4. Matt Ryan: UNCHAINED. Three years is long enough. Matt Ryan has spent the first three years of his career playing efficient football and doing a lot of handing off. But now the Falcons would like make Ryan the centerpiece of the offense, and with Jones in the fold, he should have more than enough weapons to make this into a great offense, and to put himself up with the likes of Rodgers, Manning, Brady, and Brees. This is the season for Ryan to join the big boys. If he doesn't do it this year, well now maybe he won't ever do it.
5. Did I mention their GM watches lots of CNN? Peter King is dazzled.