'USA TODAY' predicts Falcons will hoist Lombardi Trophy in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2018

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Is this the year that an NFL team finally plays in a Super Bowl on its home turf?

USA TODAY's Nate Davis certainly believes so, and he has the Falcons doing more than just playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3. Davis predicts the Falcons will win Super Bowl LIII this season.

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In his annual NFL record projections piece Davis has the Falcons and the Saints finishing atop the NFC South with equal 11-5 records, but he gives a nod to Atlanta as the division winner in a tie-breaker scenario.

"Maybe, finally this is the team that will play the Super Bowl on its own turf," Davis writes of the Falcons. "Matt Ryan and Co. will need a familiar quantum leap in Year 2 under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian that they enjoyed in a similar scenario with Kyle Shanahan in 2016. The difference with this club is a lightning quick defense that's in full bloom — the primary reason the Falcons came closest to derailing the Eagles in last season's playoffs. With five of its first seven at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta will need to make early hay to ensure its final game is there, too."

Davis predicts the Falcons will make the playoffs for the third straight season, entering the postseason as the NFC's No. 3 seed behind the Los Angeles Rams and the Minnesota Vikings. In the playoffs, Davis has Atlanta beating the sixth-seeded Packers in the wild-card round and upsetting the second-seeded Vikings on the road in the divisional round.

If Davis' projections hold true, the 2018 NFC Championship Game should be a wild one. The third-seeded Falcons would play host to the fifth-seeded Saints, letting one of the NFL's biggest rivalries take place on a massive stage. The Falcons emerge victoriously in this scenario and would go on to beat the Chargers in Super Bowl LIII.

The season is still a long way away, but if Davis proves to be an accurate fortune teller, 2018 could end in a memorable fashion.

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