Atlanta Falcons ranked 21st on Peter King’s NFL Power Rankings
Most of the offseason is now in the rear view mirror, and we are heading directly for kickoff in just over 100 days time. Power rankings have been flying around since the 2015 NFL Draft concluded a month ago, and Peter King of The MMQB has weighed in with his latest rankings.
All the way down at No. 21, you will find the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons finish notably behind New Orleans (14) and Carolina (20). Here’s what King had to say:
"“What does new coach Dan Quinn have in store on defense? The pass rush is a question mark coming into the season. And new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan needs to find a starting running back and new No. 3 receiver.”"
I will start off by saying Peter King is one of my favorite writers, and I have nothing but respect for him and all he does. However, I disagree with parts of these rankings.
Ravens at No. 1?
I think Atlanta is ranked slightly harshly at No. 21, but I will get to that in a bit. I was shocked initially with his No. 1 team — the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore? Really?
Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks on prior to the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
I love what the Ravens are doing and I think Ozzie Newsome is arguably the league’s best GM when it comes to acquiring talent through the draft and staying competitive. Every year they see key parts of their team walk in free agency, and Newsome simply wishes them well and replaces them in the draft.
They were on the verge of upsetting the Patriots in Foxboro in the Divisional Round last year, and they have one of the best playoff quarterbacks with the ice cool Joe Flacco. The Ravens are actually my dark horse to win the AFC.
No. 1, though? No chance.
The AFC is wide open — the Patriots have lost key pieces to their team and could be without Tom Brady for four games; Peyton Manning‘s decline at the backend of 2014 was a major concern for Denver, and I’m not convinced he gets anywhere near his 2013 form this season.
Dec 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears strong safety Ryan Mundy (21) defends against New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) as he drops a pass in the end zone in the second half of their game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Without many true contenders, the door is wide open for the likes of Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and yes, Baltimore to step up. Even if you put the Ravens at No. 1 in the AFC, they’re not the best team in football right now. Seattle and Green Bay are miles ahead, which would push Baltimore to at least No. 3.
Falcons below New Orleans?
Putting Atlanta at No. 21 isn’t the issue — it’s probably considerably higher up than they were four months ago. What was surprising to me was seeing the Dirty Birds ranked below their division-rival Saints.
Carolina is placed one spot higher than Atlanta at No. 20, and that’s fine. I completely get why the Panthers would be ranked higher at this stage. Their defense is by far the best in the division; they have a top quarterback, and he now has another big-time receiver in Devin Funchess to pair with Kelvin Benjamin.
The Falcons might have closed the gap, they might not have. We will only find out the answer to that when Dan Quinn’s team hit the football field in September.
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Atlanta had as good an offseason as they could have hoped for (on paper, at least), but the same can’t be said for the faltering Saints. The Falcons’ ailing pass defense won’t miss lining up against Jimmy Graham, who was traded to the Seahawks.
The Saints had a solid, but unremarkable draft as they look to fix their defense. They did a nice job in free agency, signing Brandon Browner and C.J. Spiller, but I still think the loss of Graham and receiver Kenny Stills hurts them.
With a quarterback entering his prime in Matt Ryan, the most balanced offense we’ve seen in a while and an improved defense, Atlanta is in a position to make a run at the NFC South this year, and I think they should have been placed higher.
What do you think of Peter King’s rankings? Take a look at his full list and give us your thoughts.