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Can The Atlanta Falcons Win The Super Bowl? Their Post-Bye Week Game Could Reveal The Answer

The Atlanta Falcons entered their bye week with a 5-2 record and will, at worst, be tied for the best record in the NFC when they resume play in Week 9. Bye weeks offer an NFL team a chance to heal nagging injuries, fix a sputtering offense, or re-focus an undisciplined team for the stretch run. Whatever the needs are, getting a win following the bye week is paramount to a team's long-term success.

The NFL talent level is so even. Upsets can occur at any time. A second game of a two-game road trip or a west coast game could be a landmine for many NFL teams. What separates the great teams is their ability to win the games they have two weeks to prepare for. We've all heard the classic cliche; "If you give [Insert Head Coach Here] two weeks to prepare, he's tough to beat." A quick peek at history, tells us that's true.

Since the NFL instituted the bye weeks in 1990, the eventual Super Bowl Champion has won their post-bye week game 17 times in 20 years or 85 percent of the time. Only the 2007 New York Giants (who flipped the playoff switch after a poor regular season finish), the 1997 Denver Broncos (ambushed by Napoleon Kaufman's 227 rushing yards) and the 1992 Dallas Cowboys (to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles) lost their post-bye week game.

When the Falcons (1-1 under Mike Smith after the bye week) resume play, they'll host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)  in the middle game of their three-game home stand. This game will not only be important for the NFC South lead but will also decide if the Falcons can follow in the footsteps of previous Super Bowl winners and take care of business after the bye. The Falcons have been impressive so far, but their Week 9 game will tell us a lot more about where they are as a team.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.