The Falcons didn’t just win a football game Sunday in New Orleans. They apparently won over the national media.
How about this? The team that physically took it to the defending Super Bowl champions — and yes, benefited from a missed 29-yard field goal atttempt by the Saints’ Garrett Hartley — is currently ranked as the best team in the NFC and as high as No. 2 in the entire NFL in various “power polls.”
One outlet already is projecting a possible Falcons-Steelers Super Bowl. Read on . . .
♦ Adam Schefter of ESPN: (requires Insider subscription): 1. Pittsburgh; 2. Indianapolis; 3. Falcons; 4. New Orleans; 5. New York Jets. His comment on the Falcons: “There’s nothing like the momentum you get from beating the reigning world champs.”
♦ Don Banks of Sports Illustrated: His weekly power rankings of all 32 teams differs from Schefter’s top 5 in only one spot: 1. Pittsburgh; 2. Indianapolis; 3 Falcons; 4 New Orleans; 5. Green Bay. Banks’ comment on the Falcons: “There’s no one in the NFC playing a better brand of ball than Mike Smith’s Falcons, who have already lost in overtime at Pittsburgh in Week 1 and beaten the defending Super Bowl champion Saints in overtime last Sunday. Atlanta is a tough-minded club with a physical style of play that wears out opponents. The Falcons impose their will as the game unfolds. Did anyone out there pick a Super Bowl pairing of the Steelers and Falcons? At the end of September, that looks like a real possibility.”
♦ Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports: He also ranks all 32 teams and has the Falcons at No. 2 overall: 1. Pittsburgh; 2. Falcons; 3. New Orleans; 4. New York Jets; 5. Chicago. Silver on the Falcons: “Was last Sunday in the Superdome a Coming of Age moment – and if so, will the Falcons forever be indebted to Garrett Hartley?
♦ Adams Caplan of Fox Sports: He has the Falcons fourth: 1) Pittsburgh. 2. Indianapolis; 3. Tennessee. 4. Falcons. 5. New Orleans. Caplan on the Falcons: “While the Falcons are still in need of help at one of their receiver spots, their offense has really looked solid the past two weeks. And on defense, the speed really seems to be improved. This is looking like a rock solid playoff team.
♦ Vinny Iyer of The Sporting News: Never met him. Pretty sure he needs new glasses. Iyer’s top 5 reads like this: 1. New York Jets; 2. Pittsburgh; 3. New Orleans. 4. Baltimore. 5. Green Bay. The Falcons? He has them 15th. Hey, but that’s up two spots from the week before! Iyer’s comment: “It was a huge overtime win at New Orleans, and it was good to see Michael Turner burning up again. They control the NFC South now.” (Comment about the comment: Most who’ve watched the Falcons’ three games would disagree that Turner is “burning up” again. His per carry average of 4.0 is nearly a full yard less than Jason Snelling’s 4.9.)
Now, all of this really means nothing. But it is interesting to see how the Falcons have become the flavor of the month. Two months ago, after the “news” that Brett Favre was going to retire (hah!), I ranked the top 5 teams in the NFC and had the Falcons’ second to Green Bay. (My lone obvious regret: I had the New York Giants fifth, which looks way too high right now.)
Do you think all of this love is justified?
Previously . . .