Let me start this off by saying that this is a good – check that – a VERY good Atlanta Falcons team. You can’t deny the facts. They are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history, they are playing with confidence, and they have legitimate stars in all the right places.
But is this really a championship caliber team, the best team in the NFL, or even the best Falcons team in franchise history?
Pull back the reigns folks, because that cart is waaaay beyond the horse.
First, the season isn’t quite halfway through yet. So to even draw comparisons to past Falcons teams seems a bit premature. But, if I were sitting at gunpoint and had to make that call, I’d still put them third behind the 1998 NFC champion team, and the 1980 NFC West champion team.
What’s the one thing those two teams could do that this current team just can’t seem to do? Run the ball with reckless abandon and force teams to respect both the run and the pass. And don’t even throw the rushing numbers against the Philadelphia Eagles out there at me…just about everyone runs against the Eagles defense giving up over 110 rushing yards per game.
As far as being the best team in the NFL, there are two schools. They do have the best record in the league, and are the only remaining undefeated team, so there is that. But does that make them the best team, or just a good team with the best record. I would lean towards the latter.
The big obstacle facing Atlanta’s legitimate claim to being “the best” team is simple. They haven’t faced any really good opponents. Of the seven teams Atlanta has defeated this year, only one – the Denver Broncos – has a winning record. And it’s safe to say that the week 2 Broncos are an entirely different team than the week 8 Broncos.
The combined record of Atlanta’s first seven opponents: 18-32
Not exactly murderer’s row.
Now it’s true you can only play the teams on your schedule, and the Falcons have done a superb job of dispatching of the teams put in their path to this point. But before they start laying claim to being the best in the league, and before analysts start lauding them with such praise, the Falcons need to play (and beat) the best in the league.
That happens at the one time of year when the Falcons in the Mike Smith era have faltered the most, during playoff time.
This Falcons team can go far. If they can learn to run the ball the ceiling is unlimited. But before fans get themselves worked up into a froth about how great this team is, they should let this team become great.