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NFL power rankings 2016: Atlanta Falcons are (almost) a consensus top five team in week 17

Fact: Matt Ryan gave Devonta Freeman a bonsai tree for Christmas

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons will play an important game Sunday. They have the opportunity to control their own destiny (at least to some extent) in the playoffs. A first round bye and the rest it would afford the team would undoubtedly pay substantial dividends. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan is just about 400 passing yards from making history, catapulting his MVP candidacy in the process. In short, big things are ahead. But it's Tuesday, and there are power rankings to break down, so let's get to it.

ESPN: 7th

The Falcons are on pace for 535 points scored this season, which would be the most for a team since the 2013 Broncos scored 606. The Falcons' high-flying offense needs one more big effort in Week 17 against New Orleans to keep a first-round bye intact.

CBS Sports: 3rd

They have improved on defense, which will be key come playoff time. They have to get stops.

SB Nation: 3rd 5th

Dude, Matt Ryan is not playing around. How does 27 of 33 for 277 yards and two touchdowns suit you? Look, he's not gonna win the MVP. Don't think enough people around the league are taking notice of Ryan's exploits. Tom Brady, Derek Carr and perhaps Ezekiel Elliott are probably ahead of Ryan in the voters' minds. That said, the numbers for the face of the Falcons franchise are staggering: He's completing just about 70 percent of his passes, owns nearly a 5:1 TD-to-INT ratio and ranks third in the league in passing yards (4,613). Oh, and he's led Atlanta to its first NFC South title since 2012. With that high-octane offense, the Falcons could be a scary opponent in the playoffs.

Bleacher Report: 5th

Atlanta has entrenched itself as a top-five team in my power rankings. Don't expect that to change anytime soon. With a hit-you-from-all-angles passing attack and an underrated defense, the Falcons are as good a bet as any to unseat the Cowboys atop the NFC. Let's talk about that defense for a moment. It has now surrendered under 20 points in four of its last five outings. It even features a premier pass-rusher in Vic Beasley. It just manhandled the reigning NFC champions. Any reason why teams shouldn't fear these guys?

Washington Post: 6th

The Falcons are back in the playoffs and they are playing well. Their offense will present problems for any opponent during the postseason. But will their defense play well enough for them to keep pace with the NFC's best teams?

The Falcons dropped in ESPN's rankings for no particular reason. Meanwhile, most outlets recognize them for what they are: a consensus top five team. Your thoughts?