The Atlanta Falcons nearly put up 40 points on the league's best defense Sunday afternoon. It was an impressive feat, one that ought to have impressed the commentators and fans alike. But this is the NFL, and there are always skeptics. Today is Tuesday, which means we have new power rankings. So let's break them down.
The Falcons climb back into the top 10, leapfrogging the Redskins and the aqua-hot Dolphins, following a strong second-half showing versus the Cardinals on Sunday. Your friendly writer took flak for keeping Atlanta in the No. 11 spot last week. But when a team is ranked that highly, it shouldn't move much on a bye, given that it did nothing to merit moving that week. What theFalcons did earn this week is credit for the defense, which, after a rough first half, held the Cardinals to six points in the second. This from a unit that came into the contest allowing a whopping 28.3 points per game.
The Falcons continue to fly high offensively, leading the NFL in points and scoring at least 30 in four of their past five games. The Chiefs, who have allowed fewer than 20 points in seven games this season, come to town Sunday.
If there was any doubt that the Arizona Cardinals are cooked, a 38-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons should put those doubts to rest. And there was reason for doubt. After all, the Cardinals finished 13-3 last year and opened the 2016 season with a close loss to the Patriots followed by a beatdown of the Buccaneers.
Tevin Coleman wasn't great in his return from a hamstring injury, with just 9 yards rushing. But he should be fine moving forward, which means the Falcons' fantastic offense adds another dangerous piece.
The Falcons took care of business against the fading Cardinals. They have a difficult matchup at home this weekend against the Chiefs but the schedule gets considerably easier after that with games against the Rams, 49ers, Panthers and Saints.
Gone were the ugly scars left behind by a road loss to the Eagles. Dan Quinn's team looked fresh, played fast and out-Cardinals'd the Cardinals. That is to say Atlanta leveraged its speed and big-play ability on both sides of the football. On offense, Taylor Gabriel (two touchdowns) emerged as Matt Ryan's third receiving option. The Browns castoff gives coordinator Kyle Shanahan an added dimension in both the downfield passing and screen games; Arizona couldn't stay in front of him.
I won't lie, I'm a little annoyed by some of the rankings this week. The notion that the Falcons are barely a top ten team just irks me. Because I'm an unabashed, hopeless homer, I'm frankly shocked anyone would rank them outside the top five. But heck, what do I know? Your thoughts?