Coming off a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss here’s 4 reasons why the Atlanta Falcons won’t make the playoffs in 2017. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons were up 28-3 on the Patriots in Super Bowl 51; then the goat Tom Brady took over. After blowing the biggest lead in Super Bowl history, the future for the Falcons to contrary opinion looks a lot bleaker than people realize. The Falcons not only won’t repeat upon an excellent season, they won’t even make the playoffs in 2017. Take a look at why the Falcons were just a flash in the pan instead of a consistent contender.

  1. The Falcons Will Play A First Place Schedule Next Year:

Unlike other sports, the NFL really punishes you for winning. In the NFL when you win your players are going to get poached in free agency and there’s not much you can do about it considering there is a salary cap. Unlike the NBA, the NFL’s salary cap is a hard cap which means you cannot go over. While the Falcons don’t have any important impending free agents, they have a bigger problem. The first place schedule can be a tough proposition. While many uneducated fans get excited for the schedule to be released in April, the 2017 opponents are already determined once the 2016 regular season ends. Atlanta will have to play Dallas and Seattle next year because they won the NFC South in 2016. Compare that to the Panthers who play Philadelphia and San Francisco because of their poor performance last year already gives them a huge edge in rebounding in 2017. Atlanta will likely start the 2017 season in New England for a Super Bowl rematch. We all saw what happened to Carolina last year when they got beat by Denver in the season opener. If anything is certain there is a target on Atlanta’s back next season. Every team gives it their best when facing off against a team that made the Super Bowl the prior year.

2. The Loss Of Kyle Shanahan Cannot Be Understated:

One of the most under-appreciated positions in professional sports is the coordinators on an NFL coaching staff. Most fans do not realize that a vast majority of NFL head coaches simply just manage the rest of their position coaches. When talking about the Falcons, head coach Dan Quinn was tasked with calling the defense while offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan ran the offense. Considering the defense was ranked 27th and the offense was ranked 1st, guess which coach is more valuable? Losing a play-caller of Shanahan’s stature is not an easy thing to overcome. Just ask Joe Flacco how much he misses Jim Caldwell and Gary Kubiak. Matt Ryan threw a career-high 38 touchdowns in 2016 compared to 21 in 2015 and 28 in 2014. Quarterbacks just don’t magically improve in their 30’s, that’s play-calling folks. Shanahan’s best strength is actually in the running game where is zone-running scheme never fails. I can promise you that Devonta Freeman will be a heck of a lot worse without Shanahan. How do I know this? Freeman averaged 4.8 yards per carry this season. In 2014, without Shanahan, Freeman only averaged 3.8 yards per carry which are below the league average. Good luck repeating on a historic offensive season without the coach who called the plays all season.

3. Atlanta’s Roster Is Much Weaker Than People Think:

How many stars does Atlanta really have? Was Matt Ryan really a star prior to the arrival of Kyle Shanahan? Probably not. Outside of Julio Jones who is the best receiver in football, what players on Atlanta’s roster would you be dying to trade for? Deon Jones is probably going to be a terrific inside linebacker and Grady Jarrett is a fantastic defensive tackle but everyone else is probably replaceable. Everyone talks about these running backs, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman like they are hall of fame bound but I’ve already explained that the magic of Kyle Shanahan probably makes them fools gold. Are their receivers really that good? I’ll take Randall Cobb and Devante Adams over Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. The offense is bound to take a step back last year which means the 27th ranked defense has to improve. The Falcons have about $32 million in cap space to fix their horrendous defense. If Atlanta can prove me wrong, they will need to improve upon this unit.

4. The Rest Of The Division Is Dangerous:

The NFC South is no longer a cake walk. When you only play a 16 game season, there is a lot of variance that can happen from year to year. If you look at Atlanta’s record from 2013-2015, the Falcons frankly aren’t a dominate franchise (18-30). Frankly, they aren’t a very good one and this team isn’t drastically different. The rest of the division is going to be really competitive next year as well. Heading into year 3 of the Jameis Winston era, the Bucs seem like they seem destined to win the division. Tampa also has north of $64 million to burn in free agency. Carolina is going to bounce back strong as well. Cam Newton’s poor showing in 2016 was an outlier right? The Saints can never be counted out either as long as they have Drew Brees. If you think Atlanta is going to run away with the division again, you are highly mistaken.