So this is why everyone hates Peter King so much.
The SI's columnist's clout is so far-reaching that, even when he's nowhere to be found, his impact can be felt: the AJC's Mark Bradley let loose a snarky fart of a post-game column after Atlanta put together its best second half of the season in yesterday's 31-17 win over the Panthers. Bradley's smarminess, like so many other criticisms of Atlanta, was anchored by King's notable preseason prediction that the Falcons would play in the Super Bowl. That one aside has been the source of much derision and parody after a slow 3-3 start.
No one's wearing fan blinders: We don't have issues with Bradley's assessment of the Falcons on the field. He's accurate and unbiased in highlighting a slow-starting offense orchestrated by an often infuriating offensive coordinator and an at-times horrific secondary.
The unnecessary bit is the seemingly mandatory framework of the failed "would-be Super Bowl contender" nonsense. King's certainly a titan of industry among NFL writers (why and how is for another time), but there's no journalist's law that says Atlanta was indeed a Super Bowl contender, or that writers like Bradley who focus solely on this one franchise can't counter and/or outright dismiss that claim.
One guy, ableit however powerful and connected, deemed the Falcons a favorite for Indy. It's perfectly suitable to ignore that sole prediction outright, and evaluate this team by what we know for certain: an overachieving club that should've been closer to 10-6 last season with a tougher schedule, thinner offensive line and unresolved development issues on defense this year.