Falcons look to change perception on Sunday

On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons will be the NFC representative in Super Bowl LI. It’s an honor that few expected throughout the summer, despite the presence of a top-notch offensive coordinator and a quarterback who may well end up in the Hall of Fame.

Part of the oversight was due to a second-year coach who, in his rookie campaign, watched his team collapse following a 5-0 start. There were also concerns about a defense that had resembled a sieve for much of the decade. Finally, the Falcons were in a division with the Carolina Panthers, who went 15-1 in 2015 and had only a single notable departure in Josh Norman.

The biggest reason of all, though, was that they don’t belong. The Falcons are not part of the NFL’s elite. They have never won a Lombardi Trophy. They aren’t the Packers or Cowboys or 49ers or Bears. Atlanta is a footnote, and has been since its inception in 1966.

All of that can change come Sunday. One more win, and the Falcons matter.