Go back a year ago to this very same time and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone outside of Atlanta who was willing to pick the Falcons to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LI.
Shoot, you probably wouldn’t have even have found anyone outside of Atlanta who was willing to pick the Falcons to unseat the Carolina Panthers as champions of the NFC South.
The Falcons wound up doing both, though, firmly establishing themselves as the biggest surprise team of the 2016 season.
Now the lookout is on for the biggest surprise team of the 2017 season. It is at least at the NFL Network, where the battle to fill 24 hours of programming make this a debatable topic.
That debate raged this week on the network, where at least one analyst, Elliott Harrison, believes the surprise team of the 2017 season will once again come from the NFC South. His choice, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Harrison notes that the Bucs have some work to do, particularly in shoring up their suddenly think backfield, but he clearly believes in the Buccaneers. And, he pointed out that in addition to quarterback Jameis Winston and a second-year coach seemingly on the rise in Dirk Koetter that Bucs have a defense that could surprise some people in 2017 as well.
Then again, the Bucs improved in 2016 to a nine win team after winning just two games in 2014.
So, the more analysts and media types that are talking about the Buccaneers in 2017 means it won’t really be that much of a “surprise” will it?