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Insider

Can Falcons get back to Super Bowl? On paper, there's no question

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Bettis sees Falcons going 11-5 (3:06)

Jerome Bettis and Louis Riddick break down the defending NFC champs' chances in the 2017 season. (3:06)

The Atlanta Falcons were less than one minute away from having the greatest season in the 52-year history of the franchise, but the New England Patriots made a comeback for the ages to win Super Bowl LI and deny the Falcons that triumph.

The crushing nature of that 34-28 overtime loss, when combined with the departure of brilliant offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to become the coach of the San Francisco 49ers, might make it seem like the Falcons will fall back toward the pack in 2017.

The reality is Atlanta is still considered a league favorite, as ESPN's NFL experts voted it No. 2 in the post-draft Power Rankings. A prime factor in this rating is many of the elements that drove Atlanta's success last season can be repeated in 2017. Add those to a huge impact factor acquired via this offseason's personnel moves and it means the Falcons could have the kind of success in the upcoming campaign that makes their fans forget about the Super Bowl LI disaster.