NFC rankings: Falcons drop, Vikings hold, Saints (duh)

Mike Smith and Brian VanGorder need to find a way to stop the Saints. Good luck with that. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Mike Smith and Brian VanGorder need to find a way to stop the Saints. Good luck with that. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

We came very close to seeing the top four teams in our weekly NFC rankings all lose last week. But the lab creation from MIT that is the New Orleans offense outscored Miami, 22-0, in the fourth quarter and rallied to defeat the Dolphins, 46-34, as the rest of the league collectively slapped its forehead.

Now it’s the Falcons’ turn to try to stop an offense that is averaging 39.7 points, 427.3 yards and 112.7 blown fuse boxes per week.

Behind the Saints, Minnesota, New York and the Falcons all lost. And that means some signifcant changes in this week’s rankings . . .

1. (1) NEW ORLEANS (6-0): A win means the Saints start 7-0 for the second time in franchise history. Earlier this week, running back Reggie Bush said on a radio show that the team was capable of going 16-0. I’d say that kind of statement can fire up a Falcons’ defense. The problem is they have to catch New Orleans first before they knock them down. Drew Brees actually had a bad game against Miami (three interceptions, five sacks)  and he still threw for 298 yards and led a comeback win.

2. (2) MINNESOTA (6-1): The Vikings lost last week at Pittsburgh but they’re still easily the second-best team in the conference. The big question is whether Good Brett Favre starts to devolve into Psychotic Brett Favre. He had two turnovers — a fumble and an interception — in the fourth quarter that both were returned for Steelers’ touchdowns.

brett-favre

In case Packers fans needed more fodder, here's Brett Favre crying his crocodile tears.

3. (5) GREEN BAY (4-2): The Packers have beat up on Detroit and Cleveland (combined score: 57-3) since losing at Minnesota and now get their return shot at Favre and the Vikings. But for all the talk about Favre’s return to Lambeau Field, the key matchup is the Packers’ defense (12th against the run) vs. Adrian Peterson (second in the league with 687 yards).

4. (8) DALLAS (4-2): I’m still not sold on this team in the long run, but Tony Romo showed against the Falcons what he can do when a defense lets him get into a rhythm. Rhythm won’t be a problem against Seattle Sunday. That means Dallas will be 5-2 going into consecutive road games against the Eagles and Packers.

5. (10) ARIZONA (4-2): The Cardinals are coming off a road win over the Giants, have won three straight and are starting to look like the team that went to the Super Bowl last season, all of which makes those of us with Kurt Warner on our Fantasy League team happy, happy boys. This week, they will score 78 points against Carolina, and I’m being completely objective about that.

6. (6) PHILADELPHIA (4-2): Should be an interesting game against New York. In the playoffs last January, Donovan McNabb taunted the Giants in the late minutes of an Eagles victory when, after being run out of bounds, he picked up a sideline telephone that was wired up to the Giants’ coaches box. If dealing with New York’s anger isn’t enough, McNabb also may not have Brian Westbrook (concussion) to give the ball to. Oops.

Here's a picture of the Philadelphia Eagles' cheerleaders because, well, I dunno.

Here's a picture of the Eagles' cheerleaders because, well, I dunno.

7. (3) N.Y. GIANTS (5-2): I’m not ready to make some grand declaration about the decline of the New York Giants. They’ve lost consecutive games to two good/great teams (New Orleans and Arizona). But you have to be somewhat concerned about a defense that allows 72 points and 10 touchdowns in two games, regardless of the opponent.

8. (4) FALCONS (4-2): They drop four spots in our rankings, not so much because they lost at Dallas, but because of the warning signs arising from how they lost at Dallas. Success of the offense is predicated on the running game, and something is off with Michael Turner. Defensively, they need to either cover better with the spare parts they have or get some semblance of a pass rush. Neither happened against the Cowboys. And now they face the best offense in football.

9. (7) CHICAGO (3-3): Jay Cutler’s leadership issues notwithstanding, the Bears’ defense just isn’t the same without Brian Urlacher. They saw the Bengals roll up 45 points last week and Carson Palmer go 20-for-24 with five touchdowns, which tells you he wasn’t feeling much pressure.

10. (9) SAN FRANCISCO (3-3): The 49ers, coming off a loss to Houston, have switched back to No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith at quarterback. But nobody should rush to claim him in their Fantasy drafts. Isn’t there a reason he wasn’t the best option to begin with?

11. (11) CAROLINA (2-4): I figured John Fox would make it through the season. But owner Jerry Richardson just saw his team lost to Buffalo, and he’s not a terribly patient man. And look at the rest of the schedule: Cardinals, Saints, Falcons, Dolphins, Jets, Bucs (OK, that one’s easy), Patriots, Vikings, Giants, Saints. How many wins are in that bunch: two or three?

12. (12) SEATTLE (2-4): Fresh off a bye, the Seahawks play Dallas this week. Then they have Arizona and Minnesota in November. How’s that Greg Knapp offense working out for you? Twenty-third.

sadsackcbcover

13. (13) DETROIT (1-5): The Lions were off last week. In that sense, they separated themselves from the next three.

14. (14) WASHINGTON (2-5): Dan Steinberg, who writes the always entertaining “D.C. Sports Bog” for the Washington Post, has a hilarious summation of the Ugly Sign Police at Monday night’s loss to Philadelphia. Among the reported incidents: Two fans wearing “Dumb” and “Dumber” shirts with photos of owner Dan Snyder and VP Vinny Cerrato claimed security guards made them invert their shirts. The Redskins might be the worst organization in the NFL now, and I’m including the Raiders.

15.  (15) ST. LOUIS (0-7): The Rams’ long snapper, Chris Massey, was injured covering a punt return in a 42-6 loss. If he’s out for the season, he’ll feel like he hit the lottery.

16. (16) TAMPA BAY (0-7): The Bucs lost to New England,  35-7,  in London. Several fans met them at the airport. And refused to let them deplane.

128 comments Add your comment

Michael in Dunwoody

October 30th, 2009
12:37 pm

Michael in Dunwoody

October 30th, 2009
12:38 pm

Nice! Go Falcons!

T.C

October 30th, 2009
12:40 pm

Even tho the birds beat chicago and they(bears)got blown away last weekend,i still think there better than the falcons.Falcons at #9.

Coach Smith

October 30th, 2009
12:41 pm

The Falcons don’t lose two in a row Jeff, did you forget?

Chea

October 30th, 2009
12:48 pm

“How’s that Greg Knapp offense working out for you?” –> YES!

Bad coordinators and coaches are just as damaging as bad bosses in the corporate world. And as a reflection of our financial industry, doing a bad job in the NFL also doesn’t seem to hurt one’s career prospects. How has Gregg Knapp been continuously employed? Did Seattle really think Jim Mora was going to lead their team?

Not to mention Dan Snyder…“They shoulda never gave you [people] money!”

Keep up the consistent blogging Jeff.

Delbert D.

October 30th, 2009
12:49 pm

The defenses have learned to dive at Turner’s feet. He runs with short strides behind the line, and they wrap on both.

PMC

October 30th, 2009
12:52 pm

Bad Brett will show up around the 2nd week or so of the playoffs. Look at how they handled the Pittsburgh game. Best player in the game at RB in the backfield, and they try to throw all day.

Vikings will finish with 12 13 or 14 wins and suffer the inevitable Brett Farve Failure in the playoffs. That’s what he does. He’s exciting, He throws for crap tons of yards and he fails miserably in the playoffs.

Chea

October 30th, 2009
12:56 pm

I forgot to add Brad Childress to the roll. Bad coaches can eat up a team. How he has managed to marginalize AP is really a thing of beauty.

Hey Bill Simmons, can we get an atrocious Owners/Coaches of the NFL summit?

GT

October 30th, 2009
12:58 pm

There hasn’t been an undefeated team in the NFL since the Miami Dolphins and this is the era of parity. I am thinking the Falcons have them exactly where they want them, due for a loss. We had our’s last week, and a large part of that loss was looking ahead to this game and Dallas coming off a bye. Particularly since all in the press are drinking the koolaid, Falcons win this thing and the press acts like it never happened.

Paul H

October 30th, 2009
1:02 pm

Even if the Falcons lose Monday, they’re going to have a good November. Just watch.

The Truth Hurts

October 30th, 2009
1:02 pm

The Saints are averaging 39.7 points per game, but their offense isn’t.

How many defensive touchdowns do they have? 5

That’s only 35 pts a game. See? Ordinary.

Right after the Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes combo comes the like of Brent Grimes and Chris Houston. Right is a relative term. But still…

JB

October 30th, 2009
1:11 pm

HAHAHA Packers at 3??? Are you blind? The beat the browns who have absolutely no one, and had half the team sick all week. The beat saint louis who hasen’t won a game yet, and detroit who has one and you got them at 4th? Every WINNING team they have have crushed them. They have no offensive line, and just b/c they played one team who didn’t have a defensive line means nothing is fixed. Incoporoate the fact that Green Bay has no running back and the SAME defense they had last year, keep dreaming. Their schedule get’s tougher now, and that 6-10 team will show it’s face again. You must be from wisconsin to put them above all the east teams you idiot.

Roby

October 30th, 2009
1:13 pm

No running game and no corners =Monday Night disaster.

DAVID

October 30th, 2009
1:21 pm

This game would do wonders for our confidence if we win!!!!!! We cant afford to have Brees throwing the ball everywhere and their defense making turnovers…..We played a sloppy game last week lets go to New Orleans and hit them with their first loss GOOOOOOOO FALCONS……

W&Ws

October 30th, 2009
1:25 pm

Falcons will show up against the Saints, guaranteed. Problem is, Saints look better than Dallas. Chaulk this one up in the “more respect for the NFC South” column.

YuleeFalcon

October 30th, 2009
1:39 pm

FYI, ESPN is reporting that Tye Hill will replace Grimes at starting CB. I hope this works out, although I can’t imagine it being any worse for our secondary.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
1:41 pm

Dear Arthur:

The “New Face” of the franchise project has been exposed and has failed.

You bought into the “non-paying” crazies and let the “True Franchise” player slip through your fingers because you thought this “CHOKE” could replace the Atlanta legend.

Give me a break. I have heard all of the complaints:

He is too short

He doesn’t read defenses

He is not intelligent

He is not a traditional quarterback (hidden code for…)

Well the “CHOKE” really has been reading the defense very well the past two games, with his amazing 68 & 66 QB RATINGS.

You have spent 72-million dollars just to be embarrassed, I thought you were a business man – Joey Harrington could have embarrassed the City for 2-million tops.

In 2002 this franchise was pulled from the ashes and place on the map. There was actually a waiting list for season ticket holders – after this game the only tickets you will be selling will be the blue light specials at Home Depot.

There has only been 2 playoff wins in this whole decade, which expires after this season and they are both by an unintelligent guy who can’t read a defense and is too short.

So this logic seemed to work better than the one being hosed up by the more qualified quarterback – qualified only in the eyes of the crowd that shares the same demographic.

The bottom line is he is the same LOSER that he was at Boston College, choking & being Virginia Tech’s BIATCH.

Jeff Schultz

October 30th, 2009
1:44 pm

Coach Smith — I didn’t know that. Sorry. Do I have to run laps now?

Jeff Schultz

October 30th, 2009
1:44 pm

Easy Money

October 30th, 2009
1:45 pm

Anybody who want’s some easy, easy money. Bet all you have on the Saints, I don’t care how many points you have to give up. The Falcons are going to get destroyed by the Saints by at least 4 touchdowns. I am a Falcon fan too by the way.

Jeff Schultz

October 30th, 2009
1:47 pm

YuleeFalcon — You’re right: It can’t be worse.

Arthur Blank

October 30th, 2009
1:48 pm

MCR – who would you like to see in a Falcon Uniform under center? Two average games in a row have shown me the light. We will use our next pick on a QB. Clearly Matt Ryan is a bad fit for this franchise…..

SHOTYME

October 30th, 2009
1:48 pm

I love the falcons, but if they are going to start Brent Grimes and Chris Houston against Drew Brees, there done. Falcons are going to have to match the Saints point for point, run the ball effectively, make no mistakes, and pressure Brees, if they can accomplish all these things they should win. Turner needs to stop tip toeing to the line and Houston needs to turn his head around in coverage, where’s Tye Hill and Chris Owens.So far I have to give Dimitroff a D- in this years draft, it maybe too early to tell but right now he ahs a D-. I know you falcons fans feel my pain. And for all you Vick Supporters get on Philadelphias blog and support him. He aint a Falcon and will never be one again we have all moved on with our falcon lives, and have a qb that we like he may not be perfect but he is a work in progress so please kill the vick crap already. If you keep living in the past, how can you move forward in the future.

Arthur Blank

October 30th, 2009
1:50 pm

Oh wait, the true franchise player? Is that the guy that stole 27 million dollars from me spent 2 years in prison and is getting caught from behind by defensive ends? That guy? Sure let me open up my checkbook. I’ll send the G4 and have the wife warm up the lasagna for that guy…

Rectal Bleeding

October 30th, 2009
1:57 pm

Al Smith

October 30th, 2009
2:07 pm

Monday’s going to be ugly. 56-21 is what I’m feeling

JB

October 30th, 2009
2:13 pm

The falcons have no pass defense. I mean, how would the saints ever take advantage of that?
Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

BigHittas

October 30th, 2009
2:14 pm

who’s Greg Knapp?

no mora needs to be said.

BigHittas

October 30th, 2009
2:15 pm

good pick Al, I was thinkin the Falcons would score 55 though, not 56.

manny

October 30th, 2009
2:30 pm

favre played a good game against a good defense last week. he had no time to throw all game and still delievered. the pick wasnt his fault. it went right in taylors hands. they called a million flags on the vikings that were dumb calls. bretts throws were pin point pretty much the whole game

The Anti-Vick

October 30th, 2009
2:39 pm

MATT RYAN. THE PRESENT. THE FUTURE. DEAL WITH IT.

DJ Sniper

October 30th, 2009
2:58 pm

Jeff, what’s the word on whose going to start at cornerback on Monday. According to the depth chart on nfl.com, Chevis Jackson is listed ahead of Brent Grimes. Any truth to this or not?

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
3:15 pm

The Anti-Vick

October 30th, 2009
2:39 pm
MATT RYAN. THE PRESENT. THE FUTURE. DEAL WITH IT.

“The whole City is dealing, crying and wearing paper bags with it” :)

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
3:20 pm

SEC powerhouse NOT

October 30th, 2009
3:23 pm

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
3:29 pm

Play Redman!

Bench the BUST NOW!!!!!

Matt

October 30th, 2009
3:33 pm

Falcons always play the Saints tough (at least seemingly). I think New Orleans offense though is just too much for the Birds to handle. Saints score on the first play of the game!!!

Chia Pet

October 30th, 2009
3:38 pm

Ch Ch Ch Ch Chia!

TigerBait

October 30th, 2009
3:39 pm

Matt….Maybe not the first PLAY of the game but definitly the first drive!!! LOL! I am so excited for this game! I am taking Tuesday off work just so I can stay up late & watch my Saints! Saints/Falcons games are so much fun to watch! Good Luck to both teams but I hope my boys come out on top!! Who Dat!!!

Frank Wren

October 30th, 2009
3:43 pm

Matt Ryan has been terrific so far but we really need Turner to get going. He cant do it all by himself. Ryan has one of the top passer ratings in the NFL is about to lead this team to the first back to back winning seasons in Franchise history in his first two years.

Tony Dungy has won more superbowls than anyone on this blog and he stated on National TV that Ryan was the next Peyton Manning. Thats good enough for me.

eturn

October 30th, 2009
3:44 pm

Love the Falcons.. but I agree with the previous guys. It is gonna be UGLY. Falcons always nutt up when on the national stage. 56-24 Saints

Matt

October 30th, 2009
3:47 pm

TigerBait– Oh yeah, first drive for sure. Remember though, last year Brees went long on his first throw of the game. It was intercepted so I forsee them trying again. Roll out to Devery, TD!!!

If the Falcons can run the ball consistently and keep Brees off the field then the Falcons have a great shot at winning. But if this gets to be a shootout then the Saints take it.

matt r

October 30th, 2009
3:50 pm

1 New Orleans 2 Minnesota 3 Arizona 4 New York Giants 5 Dallas 6 Atlanta 7 Green Bay 8 Philly 9 San Fran 10-16 Crappy teams

TigerBait

October 30th, 2009
3:51 pm

Yeah, I didn’t say how long the first drive would be. Besides last week, we have scored on every first drive….Which is usually three or four plays. No RB has rushed for over 100 yards agaist our D. I think the game will be close the first half but Saints break-away in the second….Saints 45 Falcons 28

JASon

October 30th, 2009
3:58 pm

Turner isn’t the problem. The problem is the defense knows the ball is going to him. Our coaches don’t know how to keep the pressure on after we score. Lets hope we keep the pressure on Monday night, and the falcons win this game.

I think Minnesota is the best team in the NFC, even though NO has a better record. Even though Brett Favre is a pathetic human being.

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
4:03 pm

1 Peyton Manning, QB IND 215 156 72.6 1880 8.74 80 15 4 2 114.5 313
2 Aaron Rodgers, QB GNB 184 121 65.8 1702 9.25 71 11 2 25 110.8 284
3 Drew Brees, QB NOR 197 132 67.0 1698 8.62 66 14 5 9 106.9 283
4 Matt Schaub, QB HOU 249 163 65.5 2074 8.33 72 16 5 12 104.4 296
5 Ben Roethlisberger, QB PIT 233 164 70.4 2062 8.85 52 11 6 20 102.6 295
6 Brett Favre, QB MIN 228 157 68.9 1681 7.37 63 12 3 18 102.2 240
7 Kyle Orton, QB DEN 194 124 63.9 1465 7.55 87 9 1 9 100.1 244
8 Tom Brady, QB NWE 273 179 65.6 2032 7.44 54 15 4 8 99.9 290
9 Philip Rivers, QB SDG 213 126 59.2 1787 8.39 81 10 3 15 96.1 298
10 Tony Romo, QB DAL 194 117 60.3 1652 8.52 80 9 4 11 94.7 275
RK PLAYER TEAM ATT COMP PCT YDS YDS/A LONG TD INT SACK RATE YDS/G
11 Joe Flacco, QB BAL 225 145 64.4 1674 7.44 72 11 5 10 93.8 279
12 Donovan McNabb, QB PHI 110 63 57.3 768 6.98 57 6 1 12 93.3 192
13 Eli Manning, QB NYG 203 120 59.1 1633 8.04 62 12 6 6 92.2 233
14 Matt Ryan, QB ATL 191 120 62.8 1360 7.12 90 11 6 6 90.2 227

The Grinch

October 30th, 2009
4:08 pm

I don’t expect us to win, but a good showing on MNF would help our national stock. It’d be nice to get Norwood back; any word on how long he’s likely to be out?

The Grinch

October 30th, 2009
4:09 pm

Where’s Mike Vick on that list, genius?

Matt "Choke" Ryan

October 30th, 2009
4:09 pm

1 Cedric Benson, RB CIN 164 720 4.4 28 6 5 102.9 1 31
2 Adrian Peterson, RB MIN 138 687 5.0 64 6 8 98.1 2 36
3 Steven Jackson, RB STL 143 635 4.4 58 3 0 90.7 2 25
4 Thomas Jones, RB NYJ 122 602 4.9 71 5 7 86.0 2 24
5 Chris Johnson, RB TEN 95 596 6.3 91 7 2 99.3 1 18
6 Ryan Grant, RB GNB 118 495 4.2 37 2 3 82.5 0 26
7 Ronnie Brown, RB MIA 109 491 4.5 38 2 7 81.8 0 27
8 Clinton Portis, RB WAS 120 490 4.1 78 2 1 70.0 1 19
9 Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG 120 464 3.9 31 2 2 66.3 0 21
10 Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAC 108 463 4.3 61 4 8 77.2 1 29
RK PLAYER TEAM ATT YDS YDS/A LONG 20+ TD YDS/G FUM 1DN
11 DeAngelo Williams, RB CAR 105 461 4.4 20 1 5 76.8 2 28
12 Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NYG 80 455 5.7 38 4 3 65.0 2 25
13 Ray Rice, RB BAL 73 441 6.0 50 5 3 73.5 0 16
14 Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT 78 418 5.4 39 4 4 59.7 2 20
15 Fred Jackson, RB BUF 103 417 4.0 43 2 0 59.6 1 15
16 Michael Turner, RB ATL 118 403 3.4 33 1 7 67.2 4 23

Choke is number 14

Turner is number 16

Turner is not the problem.

W&Ws

October 30th, 2009
4:10 pm

TigerBait – Y’all try to have fun Monday night, cause you can count on the Falcons getting after you for years to come. Dats right.