No one really believed in the Falcons heading into this season. Or at least none of the 42 commentators ESPN asked back in the fall to predict the NFC champion.

And yet with a blowout win over the Packers on Sunday, the Falcons are headed into the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history, where they’ll be only slight underdogs against the powerhouse Patriots.

It almost makes you forget that only four months ago, Atlanta inspired preseason predictions like this…

The Falcons owe much of their success in 2016 to quarterback Matt Ryan, who until this year seemed like the epitome of a guy who would get invited to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement and is now the presumptive NFL MVP, having passed for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

It’s enough to make you forget that not too long ago, Ryan was prompting tweets like this:

Though Ryan had plenty of doubters heading into this season, none was more vocal than noted provocateur Colin Cowherd.

But it quickly became apparent that anyone forecasting a drab 5-11 finish for the Falcons and another good-but-not-great campaign for Ryan had a defective crystal ball. The Falcons began the season 8-2 and surged to the front of their division, with Ryan throwing 22 touchdowns and three interceptions in those 10 games.

Then came the Oct. 23 game, when Atlanta forked over a 17-point lead against the Chargersto lose in overtime, 33-30.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.