Steve Wyche of NFL.com released his June rankings of all 32 NFL teams.
Three of the top four teams hail from the AFC with the Chargers, Ravens and Colts coming in at #1, #2 and #4, respectively.
Hit the jump to see where the Falcons rank and what that means for the upcoming season.
Best NFC Ranking
The Falcons are #7 overall. This is the highest they have been rated in any previous ranking I’ve seen. In fact, in the NFC, only the Cowboys (#3) and the Packers (#5) are rated higher.
CB Dunta Robinson and rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon change the tenor of the defense. RB Michael Turner is already in shape to return to form.
Surpassing the Saints
The biggest surprise? The Falcons are the highest rated team in the NFC South ahead of the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints (#8).
Like Indy’s Peyton Manning, N’awlins’ Drew Brees will have the Saints in the thick of things. The O-line is really good and DE Alex Brown should improve the defensive front.
After the Falcons and the Saints, the Buccaneers are 22nd and the Panthers are 30th. This is drastically different than what Peter King thought and provides an interesting counterpoint.
Tampa Bay could be this season’s sleeper team — if the rookies all step up. That’s asking a lot. They should be a lot better, especially on offense, but not quite yet.
There is bad karma in Carolina. There is still talent and a lot of gritty players, but a lame duck coach and underlying morale issues could undermine this season.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.