Wed, 12 Aug 2020

This may sound a bit cliche, but every team in the NFL has one goal heading into the season: Win the Super Bowl and hoist that Lombardi Trophy.

That said, some teams are much closer to realizing that achievement than others and, as a result, the definition of success can vary from team to team.

So, aside from winning the Super Bowl, what would constitute a successful season for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020? Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report recently tackled that question for all 32 teams.

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When looking closer at the Falcons, Gagnon wrote that while "the window is closing on that offensive battery," the 6-2 finish to close out the 2019 season "teased a potential rejuvenation." Gagnon, while noting that the Falcons are 24-24 since their Super Bowl LI run and have finished with back-to-back 7-9 records, wrote that while fans might want "more than a mere playoff berth to quell their impatience," that might not be realistic since the NFC South is considerably tougher.

So, what does Gagnon think success in 2020 looks like for the Falcons?

"At the very least, the Falcons have to take advantage of an expanded playoff field and punch a postseason ticket for the first time since 2017," he wrote. "We know they have the talent, and they can't afford another losing season with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on offense and Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones on defense."

Gagnon is not alone in his assessment.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, whose opinion is the only one that counts when it's all said and done, told me back in January that 7-9 is not the bar and that he is expecting a return to the playoffs this season.

"I think we definitely want to be a super-competitive team," Blank said. "Not just competitive but think at a high level. We want to find ourselves back in the playoffs this coming year."

When I asked Blank how important is it for the Falcons to get off to a quick start this season, he said he preferred one, and understands fans may push the proverbial panic button if the teams start off 0-1 or 0-2.

"I prefer a quick start to a slow start, but I think 0-1 and 0-2 doesn't dictate a season," Blank said. "It's a long season obviously. This year while we ended up with a horrific start at 1-7, we ended up with a great second half of the season at 6-2, improved in a variety of ways. Defense went from No. 31 to No. 8 in the league. Having said that, my preference certainly would be to start fast and to be able to finish fast as well. And, basically, to have a successful season for the entire season - and I'm hopeful that we can do that this coming year."

Speaking of that schedule, the Falcons will kick off the regular season by hosting the Seattle Seahawks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 13. It will be the first time the Falcons have hosted a season-opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

As far as getting off to a quick start goes, it won't be easy.

After hosting the Seahawks, the Falcons will hit the road to play the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 20 in Arlington, Texas.

Since Dan Quinn has taken over as head coach, the Falcons are 2-2 against the Seahawks, including a 36-20 win over Seattle in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs in 2017. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 27-20 last year in Atlanta.

The Falcons have beaten the Cowboys in three of their last four matchups but fell 22-19 in their last meeting back in 2018. The last time the Falcons traveled to Arlington, they beat the Cowboys 39-28 back in 2015.

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