Atlanta Falcons could get off to 5-0 start before Super Bowl rematch

The Atlanta Falcons open their new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium with high expectations coming off of last year's Super Bowl appearance.

Reigning MVP Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman have the offense primed to put up record-setting numbers, while coach Dan Quinn's defense, led by NFL sacks leader Vic Beasley Jr., is faster and deeper than for any of Quinn's three seasons with the club.

Will the Falcons avoid a Super Bowl hangover and clear the memories of that devastating 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots from their heads? Only time will tell.

Here are game-by-game predictions for how the Falcons might fare in 2017:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET

The perfect cure for a Super Bowl hangover is facing a rebuilding team that finished 3-13 the year before. Ryan vs. Mike Glennon should be no match. Record: 1-0.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. ET

The atmosphere should be electric for this game, the Falcons' first regular-season contest in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It's Ryan vs. Aaron Rodgers in an NFC Championship Game rematch, and Ryan has won the last two matchups between the quarterbacks. Record: 2-0.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET

Ryan gets to see his offseason rec league basketball teammate, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who just landed a big new contract. The Falcons and Ryan should be able to take advantage of what was the league's third-worst red-zone defense in 2016. Record: 3-0.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

The Bills might not be a pushover, but the Falcons should be just fine at home. The Bills ranked 29th against the run last season, so Freeman and Tevin Coleman might both have explosive days. Buffalo sort of gave up on the season when it traded star receiver Sammy Watkins. Record: 4-0.

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

The Falcons' offensive line has to contain Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh and keep Ryan upright. Yes, Miami now has Jay Cutler at quarterback, but that simply should mean more interceptions for Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and company. Record: 5-0.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m. ET

The much-anticipated Super Bowl LI rematch will be must-see TV. From the Falcons' perspective, they have to step on the gas on offense and run the ball if they have the lead late. But beating Tom Brady at home is a tall task. Record: 5-1.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET

Although it's the second consecutive game on the road, the Falcons should have no issues against a Jets team that's been in disarray. The Jets might have the worst roster in the league. Record: 6-1.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

The Falcons frustrated Cam Newton and the Panthers last season, winning both games. Newton and the Panthers will be a little extra motivated to prove they can still compete for the division title. Record: 6-2.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET

Plenty of star power, with Ryan vs. Dak Prescott, Julio Jones vs. Dez Bryant, and Freeman vs. Ezekiel Elliott, provided Elliott's six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy isn't drawn out by a long appeal. The Cowboys have something to prove after failing to make this matchup happen in last year's NFC Championship Game. Record: 6-3.

Week 11: Monday, Nov. 20, at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. ET

Maybe All-Pro wide receiver Jones will get his rematch against cornerback Richard Sherman, who got away with a hold in last year's Seahawks win in Seattle. Dan Quinn going back to Seattle, where he was the defensive coordinator, is always a storyline. Record: 7-3.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET

Now the NFC South action really heats up as Jameis Winston, DeSean Jackson & Co. visit Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons won't lose to the Buccaneers at home for the third straight season. No way. Record: 8-3.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

Looks like a Falcons win on paper, but there's always a game a team shouldn't lose but does. The Vikings' front seven is no joke. Record: 8-4.

Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 7, vs. New Orleans Saints, 8:30 p.m. ET

This game between bitter rivals could go either way, especially with Drew Brees still capable of putting up big numbers. The Falcons and Saints were the top two scoring offenses in the league last season, but only the Falcons averaged more than 30 points per game. Record: 9-4.

Week 15: Monday, Dec. 18, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:30 p.m. ET

Dirk Koetter's Buccaneers are an improving team, and Winston is on the rise. At home they'll be tough to beat, especially if defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is on his game. Record: 9-5.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET

Maybe the division title will be on the line. Maybe not. Whatever the case, Ryan and the Falcons will find a way to finish strong, just as coach Dan Quinn preaches all the time. Record: 10-5.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

Beasley and the Falcons ring in the New Year by putting Newton on his back and securing their second straight division title. It will happen as long as everyone stays healthy. Record: 11-5.