Up 17-0 and then 24-14 at home in the NFC Championship Game, the Falcons were oh-so-close to the Super Bowl this year. Quarterback Matt Ryan got the monkey off his back, as did coach Mike Smith, and the defense should only get better next year. Not the sexiest team, the Falcons will be a force to be reckoned with — yet again — next season. - Peter Schrager
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