NFL Atlanta Falcons

Rant Sports Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings: Atlanta Falcons Ranked 13th

This past week, Rant Sports unveiled their pre-season NFL power rankings, and the Atlanta Falcons have landed at number 13 on this list.  The list, which was a collaborative effort by a group of NFL columnists, will be updated as the season progresses.

Here is the individual list that I presented to the panel (you can see the combined rankings for all the columnists in the link above):

1. New England Patriots
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Houston Texans
6. Chicago Bears
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. New York Giants
9. Detroit Lions
10. Denver Broncos
11. Atlanta Falcons
12. Dallas Cowboys
13. Buffalo Bills
14. San Diego Chargers
15. Cincinnati Bengals
16. Philadelphia Eagles
17. Kansas City Chiefs
18. New Orleans Saints
19. Arizona Cardinals
20. Tennessee Titans
21. New York Jets
22. Carolina Panthers
23. Seattle Seahawks
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
25. Washington Redskins
26. Oakland Raiders
27. Miami Dolphins
28. Jacksonville Jaguars
29. St. Louis Rams
30. Cleveland Browns
31. Minnesota Vikings
32. Indianapolis Colts

So overall, the Falcons only dropped two spots from where I had them ranked.  I feel like they are definitely on the fringe of a Top-10 team right now, and if some of the off-season moves that have been made pan out, they could easily end up Top-5 before season’s end.  The one thing that holds me back from ranking Atlanta higher than 11,  is depth.  I just don’t feel like they have the greatest talent on the bench at some key positions.

The general feeling among the writers contributing to these rankings was that the Falcons still had question marks on defense (which I don’t really see), and they also questioned the ability of Matt Ryan to take the Falcons any further than he has (which I also disagree with), as well as the depth problem.

The questions and issues on defense have been addressed.  Some think the loss of Curtis Lofton hurt the Atlanta linebacker corps, but I believe that Akeem Dent is ready to step up, and he has a great mentor in the Falcons off-season acquisition Lofa TatupuAsante Samuel is a huge get for Atlanta in the defensive secondary, and combined with Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson (as well as the other up and coming young defensive backs), the Falcons secondary may be one of the top in the league.

Matt Ryan is one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion.  I don’t know that he’ll ever become one of the “elite” quarterbacks in the mold of a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he has the tools and talent to take this team as far as they want to go.  Each season I’ve seen improvements in his decision making and in his arm.  This off-season, Ryan has worked hard to strengthen his throwing arm to be able to throw a longer and more accurate deep ball (that sound you just heard was Julio Jones licking his chops).  He’s an excellent student of the game, and now that he’s got some protection lined up in front of him on that offensive line, I truly think you’ll see a very special season from Ryan in 2012.

What are your thoughts, both on the Rant Sports compiled rankings, as well as my own list?  Comment below and debate away!