Trying to predict who might land in the Super Bowl each year is tricky, if not impossible business. But it never hurts to look at recent Super Bowl teams and compare the makeup of said squads to current contenders. And when you look at the NFC, it’s hard not to pick up on the comparisons between the 8-2 New Orleans Saints and the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
1. The Falcons had an elite, MVP-caliber quarterback. So do the Saints.
2. The Falcons had the league’s best running back tandem, with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman averaging a combined 171 yards from scrimmage per game. And now the league’s best running back tandem belongs to the Saints, with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara averaging a ridiculous 193 scrimmage yards per game.
3. The Falcons possessed one of the game’s top No. 1 receivers in Julio Jones. The Saints possess one of the game’s top No. 1 receivers in Michael Thomas.
4. After years of being a liability, the Falcons defense — led by strong young players like Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Vic Beasley and Jalen Collins — blew away all expectations and became an asset. After years of being a laughingstock, the Saints defense — led by strong young players like Marshon Lattimore, Von Bell, Marcus Williams, Ken Crawley, Sheldon Rankins and Cameron Jordan — has blown away all expectations and become an asset.
5. The Falcons received immediate contributions from their rookie class, with Jones, Neal, Brian Poole and De’Vondre Campbell all playing major roles on defense. The Saints have received immediate contributions from their rookie class, with Lattimore, Kamara, Williams and Ryan Ramczyk all playing major roles on both sides of the ball.
Plus, there’s something about the NFC South, which sent the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl with MVP quarterback Cam Newton in 2015 and sent the Falcons there with MVP quarterback Matt Ryan in 2016. Both lost, but a third time could be a charm for the New Orleans Saints and MVP contender Drew Brees at quarterback in 2017.
Just throwing it out there…