Matt Ryanprobably won't, but he has the clout to pull a Joe Flacco. He could take a risk, as Flacco did a year ago, and play out the final year of his rookie deal. Ryan could bet on himself to make even more money than the Atlanta Falcons invariably will offer him once contract negotiations get serious.

It's unlikely Ryan will take that tact, but why not? He is as good as Flacco. Ryan has the regular-season success, the arm strength and the penchant for orchestrating fourth-quarter comebacks and leading game-winning drives. He has a solid offensive line, one of the best receiving corps in the National Football League, a future Hall of Fame tight end and a new running back who will provide the Falcons an added playmaker out of the backfield.

Opposing defenses thought the Falcons' screen game was a handful last year. It will be even more so with running back Steven Jackson, Atlanta's big offseason acquisition.

This team is loaded and stable entering the sixth year of the Mike Smith/Thomas Dimitroff era, in large part because the head coach and general manager were right about Ryan in the 2008 draft. In January, on his fourth try, Ryan was able to check off one of those nagging boxes on his career to-do list: Win a postseason game.

Now, he is ready to check off another: Win a Super Bowl.

The NFL season is long and grinding, and injuries are impossible to predict. Anything can happen over the course of 17 weeks, but Atlanta is in as good of a position as any team to take the next step and play for a Super Bowl.

Ryan certainly believes that can happen. If he postponed contract talks, not to be difficult or defiant but to do what Flacco did a year ago, Ryan could prove he deserves top dollar. He could prove he belongs in the upper echelon with Flacco and Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, not in the next tier with Tony Romo.