The storylines surrounding a dual Super Bowl LI teams have diverged over a past dual months.
After hoisting their second Lombardi Trophy in 3 years, a Patriots are clearly dynamic to enter win-now mode. After splurging on far-reaching receiver Brandin Cooks, parsimonious finish Dwayne Allen, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and a revamped backfield, New England will enter a 2017 deteriorate as a accord favorites for another Super Bowl appearance.
For all of a certainty over a Pats’ prospects, a Falcons have been surrounded by doubt given blowing a 25-point lead in a biggest game of a franchise’s half-century history. Forget a “Super Bowl hangover” narrative. Losing unmatched descent coordinator Kyle Shanahan is a some-more discernible regard for Atlanta’s chances of repeating in a NFC South.
Road to a Patriots Return
Based on several metrics, Football Outsiders has reached a end that a Patriots exaggerate a NFL’s easiest report in 2017. Based on common sense, we comprehend a Super Bowl champions have an fundamental advantage in that they don’t have to play opposite a installed New England outfit. With health as a caveat, they won’t face a singular competition with a stronger roster.
Bill Belichick’s patrol also enjoys 6 matchups contra a depleted Jets, a perennially rebuilding Bills and a wild-card Dolphins in a multiplication owned by a Patriots.
Outside of a AFC East, though, a Pats won’t face any pushovers. The Chiefs, Saints, Texans, Panthers, Buccaneers, Falcons, Chargers, Broncos, Raiders and Steelers all have picturesque playoff aspirations this season.
The Dec. 17 strife with Pittsburgh could dawn vast for playoff seeding.
Any discussion powerhouse anticipating to pass a returning champs should be prepared to make a run before a Patriots tighten out a deteriorate with home games contra a Bills and Jets. From Halloween until a Christmas Eve hitch with Buffalo, New England plays in Gillette Stadium only once — Nov. 26 contra Miami.
Road to a Falcons Return
If Dan Quinn’s bar is a critical hazard for a Super Bowl return, a deteriorate opener during Chicago should duty as a small preface to a intensity Sunday Night Football shootout with a Packers in Week 2. After circumference Green Bay in a 33-32 thriller in late October, Atlanta cruised to a 44-21 feat 3 months after in a NFC Championship Game.
The NFC South draws a AFC East for inter-conference play, that means a Falcons should advantage from a same advantage a Patriots have been exploiting for dual decades. The apparent difference is a Super Bowl LI rematch during New England on Oct. 22.
Atlanta’s first-place report also brings a intensity midseason ambuscade with back-to-back games contra Dallas and during Seattle.
After using that gauntlet, a Falcons will tighten out a deteriorate by doing conflict with multiplication rivals in 5 of a final 6 weeks. In fact, they will face a pretender Bucs and a high-flying Saints dual times every in that span.
If a Falcons are going to repeat atop a division, they will have to hit off a Panthers — a NFC South champs from 2013 to 2015 — in a deteriorate finale. That showdown will take place in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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