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Last year's ranking: 20
Title track: 70
Fan relations: 67
Stadium experience: 95
Bang for the buck: 82
"Nothing will come easy" was the theme of the Falcons' training camp this summer, a sentiment that certainly applied to last year. Coming off three straight playoff seasons, including one in which they fell just 10 yards short of what looked like a trip to the Super Bowl, the Falcons were expected to be contenders again. Instead, they were decimated by injuries, with WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White and RB Steven Jackson missing a total of 18 games. Atlanta lost nine of its first 11 games, finishing at 4-12, handing coach Mike Smith his first losing season with the team.
Atlanta accordingly plummeted 47 spots in their overall rank (fourth worst among all pro franchises and second worst among NFL teams) and slid in all eight categories, including a staggering 77-place drop in bang for the buck. At least stadium parking was tied for fourth lowest, and more than $10 less than the league average (it would seem cruel and unusual to ask people to battle through Atlanta traffic, then pay a fortune to park for a 4-12 team).
If the fans are dissatisfied with the current product, they at least have a new building to look forward to. The new $1.2 billion Falcons stadium is scheduled to open in 2017, with $200 million worth of help from city taxpayers. All that cheese will help pay for a 63,000-square-foot oval video board, integrated into the opening of the retractable roof, and a 100-yard-long food and drink bar. The idea, Falcons president Rich McKay told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "was to make sure that we're not just moving the needle, but that we're changing the game."
For now, Falcons fans would be happy with changing a few results.