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Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman joined truly elite company in 2017

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They’re two of only three backs to hit an arbitrary but impressive milestone.

Divisional Round - Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The nice thing about statistics is that if you slice them right, you can probably make your favorite players look good. Sometimes, you don’t need to put them under a microscope to accomplish that, and that’s the case with today’s impressive running back stats.

Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Ezekiel Elliott are the only three backs in the NFL to average more than 4.2 yards per carry (a solid but not spectacular number) and 8.4 yards per catch (ditto). David Johnson barely played a year ago, which skews this, but this list does not include Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Mark Ingram, and so on and so forth. It is, in other words, legitimately impressive that the Falcons have two guys on this list.

It speaks to the importance of this running back tandem for Atlanta, which typically manages to do good things on the football field even if the rest of the offense is faltering a bit. It makes you wonder whether the Falcons can dig deep in their cap coffers and come up with a compelling contract for Coleman, who has been a vital cog and won’t be easily replaced, no matter how good Ito Smith turns out to be. And it makes you appreciate just how good of a job the Falcons have done in terms of unearthing and developing talent at a spot few teams have invested wisely in over the past few years.

Don’t be surprised if the Falcons are still on this short list a year from now, even if it might include a couple more names with the likes of Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara lighting the league on fire a year ago. We’ll hope against hope that Atlanta finds a way to keep the duo together a while longer.