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NFL power rankings: Atlanta Falcons keep sliding after week nine loss to Carolina Panthers

Fact: Matt Ryan doesn’t clap much these days; even when he’s happy, even when he knows it

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons will square off against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to call it a must-win game, because let’s be honest, the NFC South is suddenly pretty competitive and the Falcons may have already squandered their playoff aspirations. Pundits are rapidly losing faith in the Super Bowl runner up, and that’s evident when you look at this week’s power rankings. (My apologies that these are coming so late in the week. I had to bail Dave out of jail again and that really jacked up my week.) Let’s break them down.

ESPN: 17th (down four spots)

The Super Bowl runners-up have lost four of five following a 3-0 start. The offense was expected to pick up where it left off last season, but Atlanta is averaging 16.6 points per game the past five games, cracking 20 points just once to make them one of the biggest fallers. 19th (down four spots)

Not many folks thought the Falcons would be playing .500 ball with this schedule. Not after a narrow loss in the Super Bowl, and not with all the young talent this organization has assembled. In fact, some football fans seem to be in complete denial, as I took a little guff after suggesting Atlanta was the definition of a mediocre team on the "NFL Power Rankings" show. With a home game against the Cowboys followed by a trip to Seattle, there is a strong possibility this non-Super Bowl hangover will read 4-6.

Sports Illustrated: 13th (down one spot)

Washington Post: 13th (same)

Bleacher Report: 16th (down three spots)

If the Falcons want to push for a playoff spot, they need to do a better job of playing to their strengths. Even if they manage to, they're no better than the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC this season.

Yahoo Sports: 11th (down two spots)

I still can’t believe that Julio Jones drop. We might look back on that play changing the entire playoff picture in the NFC.

So there you have it, Falcoholics.