Falcons vs. Steelers is suddenly a hot Super Bowl pick

The Falcons were jumping for joy after their win over New Orleans and their bandwagon is filling up.

The Falcons were jumping for joy after their win over New Orleans and their bandwagon is filling up.

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 . . .

Braves may get a helping hand to postseason — from Phillies

Braves still upright despite losing Prado (and so many others)

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

130 comments Add your comment

Screen Pass

September 29th, 2010
9:59 pm

Last. It is a little early for this kinda talk but better than being derided.

mark

September 29th, 2010
10:01 pm

mark

September 29th, 2010
10:04 pm

Tap the brakes a little. Lets see how we do at Philly in 2 weeks….

Chris M

September 29th, 2010
10:07 pm

What a dope the last guy is. We beat the saints and he has us 15th and them 3rd?
And like you said, turner isn’t burning anything up. Snelling is. This is a typical sports media moron who watches just a few big teams and ignores 90% of them and is clueless.

Jan

September 29th, 2010
10:07 pm

As I have said before, this is our year! Go Falcons!

falcons!

Chris M

September 29th, 2010
10:08 pm

For the record, after the pitt game, I said we could see a rematch between these teams in the super bowl.

Naboo the Enigma

September 29th, 2010
10:15 pm

Power rankings are great and all and I click the links as soon as the newest power polls come out to read “who’s hot now” but it’s only week 3. A lot can happen in the next 14 weeks. Keep playin’ tough, smart, smash mouth football fellas, Go Birds!

Benjamin

September 29th, 2010
10:17 pm

Know what surprises me, Jeff? The Bears are only ranked on one of those five lists that you presented. They’re 3-0 and coming off a win against a strong Green Bay team in their own right, and they’re 5th on one ballot? Interesting.

[My rankings, for the record: Pittsburgh, Indy, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans. But that's just a rough draft.]

Benjamin

September 29th, 2010
10:17 pm

…and that game at Philly will be our toughest test all season, the New Orleans game we just survived included.

Dan

September 29th, 2010
10:18 pm

The NFL can only wish it is Falcons-Steelers so at least one of the starting QBs has not previously been suspended

Roger Goodell’s nightmare scenario for Super Bowl XLV Media Day is Steelers-Eagles as the sportswriters of America debate whether the better story is having your starting QB come back from time in federal prison or missing the first month of the season after being accused of multiple sexual assaults

Big B CH 99

September 29th, 2010
10:22 pm

After the last 2 wks no one is blaming the Falcons for losing to Pittsburgh anymore. It doesn’t look like it was a problem w/ the Falcons offense as much as it was Pitt. playing great D. From my viewpoint w/ a healthy Polamula, & knowing Big Ben was out the D decided they can take Joe Blow outta the stands and put him at QB b/c NO one is gonna score on the them. It doesn’t matter who your QB is if your D is completely shutting the opponent down.

Benjamin

September 29th, 2010
10:22 pm

lol Dan, I haven’t thought about that. Goodell probably prays every morning that doesn’t happen. Good point.

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Gp

September 29th, 2010
10:31 pm

There is a very fine line between winninng and losing in the NFL. The Falcons don’t need to apologize for winning Sunday on a botched kick by the Saints and there was no moral victory in Pittsburgh. The Falcons looked great at times Sunday but going 3 and out on the first overtime posession set them up for a loss.

Let’s wait a few more weeks before putting them in the Super Bowl.

moorman

September 29th, 2010
10:34 pm

LOOOOOOLLLLLLLL. FALCONS???? 44 years and you expect this bunch to finally get it right? nah.

1. matt ryan throws too many crucial picks.
2. sam baker is overrated.
3. NO physical play from the safeties. thats INSTANT trash for a defense, ANY defense.
4. these ARE the falcons.

gcs

September 29th, 2010
10:35 pm

Steelers over the Falcons is an even hotter Super Bowl pick.

.

extremus

September 29th, 2010
10:36 pm

While I wouldn’t go buying up any Superbowl tickets just yet, I’ve felt all during the offseason that the Falcons were a potentially very good team flying under the radar while the media focused on higher profile teams like the Cowboys, Jets, and “everyone’s darlings” the Saints. But their performance at the Superdome finally made everyone sit up and take notice.

Of course, in the NFL you’re only as good as your most recent game’s results. The Falcons can’t afford to have a let down against the 49ers (or ANY other team), who I’m sure haven’t forgotten their drubbing by the Birds last year (that and Mike Singletary is fighting for his job and will likely be reminding his players of that fact all week). I’m really liking the Falcons’ chances of a huge run right now, but maturity is proven in the games “you’re supposed to win” as well.

DZ

September 29th, 2010
10:38 pm

I find it far-fetched to declare the Falcons a Super Bowl favorite just because the Saints kicker missed a chip shot field goal. If he had made that like any high school kicker in America could have, everyone would be saying how disappointing the Falcons are and how LAME their first OT series was.

GA Heel

September 29th, 2010
10:44 pm

Ahhh..you’ve got to love the media.The Falcons were very fortunate to win a game in New Orleans and now they are the media darlings. If the Falcons had lost, the media would be asking what is wrong with the Falcons, they were overrated at the beginning of the season. Let’s hold off judgement until the middle of the season PLEASE!!! They still have to play some pretty good, playoff caliber teams soon. I’m not ready to reserve my room in Dallas just yet. Remember, one game does not make a season.

Buzzzed

September 29th, 2010
10:44 pm

Watched the game but am more of a college guy. They played with heart and they had to work for everything. Much better than Tech and UGA teams right now. I will tune in for the next game for sure.

Screen Pass

September 29th, 2010
10:46 pm

“1. matt ryan throws too many crucial picks.” – moorman

How many picks did M. Ryan and how many were “crucial” during the Saints game? I bet the answer is the same as your IQ.

[...] Falcons vs. Steelers is suddenly a hot Super Bowl pickAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)2 in the entire NFL in various “power polls.” One outlet already is projecting a possible Falcons-Steelers Super Bowl. Read on . … [...]

David Smith

September 29th, 2010
11:00 pm

moorman you’re a typical outsider who knows nothing about this team if not football at all. It’s far too early for Super Bowl talk but, our Dirty Birds are flying high right now. FALCONS RISE UP!!!

idot

September 29th, 2010
11:07 pm

I think Turner is running pretty good.

Eric C.

September 29th, 2010
11:09 pm

DZ, no you clown…Matt Ryan should have hit Douglas on the fly pattern before the missed FG. He was wide open and Ryan makes that pass 90.6% of the time…the same percentage of times that FG kickers make 29 yd FGs. If Ryan had completed that attempt like he should have…then clowns like you would blame the loss on Reggie Bush’s injury.

idot

September 29th, 2010
11:12 pm

“the New Orleans game we just survived”?
The game that the Falcons almost let the saints steal.

idot

September 29th, 2010
11:18 pm

DZ@10:38pm…………”If”.??

d
z

ernisTbass

September 29th, 2010
11:23 pm

There was no luck involved in the Saints victory over the Vikings in the NFC championship game last year either as far as any Saints fans can remember, yeah they had that one locked up from the opening kickoff

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aarh

September 29th, 2010
11:25 pm

Yeah, the Saints missed a field goal that they should have made, but it shouldn’t have mattered, bc if the Falcons didn’t og for it on 4th down & 5…it wouldn’t have gone ot overtime. That decision gave the Saints a short field to work with, which resulted in a score that shouldn’t of happened. I don’t care how they won. The old Falcons would have lost that game, & they found a way to win. I think it’s especially impressive that they won on the road, bc they seemed to struggle on the road in the past, & it was against the defending Super Bowl champs might I add.

idot

September 29th, 2010
11:29 pm

IF the Falcons had not spotted the saints 7 points at the start of the game.
IF the saint’s punt had not hit Decoo on that freak play.

No IFs about it, the Falcons gave the saints an opportunity to steal the game in OT, and the saints CHOKED.
No IFs about it, the Falcons pounded the saints in the second half to the point, that when they got a 2nd chance in OT, the Falcons stomped the saints and rammed the ball down their throats for the VICTORY.

Freddie G

September 29th, 2010
11:37 pm

It is waaaay too early for that, I hope they don’t jinx the team.

Jeff Schultz

September 29th, 2010
11:41 pm

Screen Pass, Mark — I agree, it’s early. Just 3 games in 16. Just reporting what perception is right now. And yeah, that Philly game will be huge.

Jeff Schultz

September 29th, 2010
11:43 pm

Benjamin — Not a lot of believers in the Bears before the season but I think people are just now warming up to them. The key to that team: How much Mike Martz (a great offensive coach) can develop Jay Cutler. If that happens, look out. The Bears absolutely would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Jeff Schultz

September 29th, 2010
11:45 pm

Dan — Hadn’t quite thought of it that way. Certainly would be different from any other Super Bowl QB matchup.

DHunt

September 30th, 2010
12:22 am

@Dan, brilliant insight.

Falcons offense did not play at the same level in game one as they have in games 2 and 3. Falcons should be 3-0 and Steelers should be 2-1. Not giving them a pass, because they didn’t bring their A game. But that’s why I predicted 14-2, because I think we are good enough to beat every team on our schedule, but we’ll have a couple of games where the breaks don’t go our way or we just don’t bring the A game, like in Pittsburgh,

Capt. Kirk

September 30th, 2010
12:40 am

Falcons vs. Steelers:

Which team will have the most players arrested for rape, DUI, drug possession, RICO, illegal firearms or wife beating before the Super Bowl?

My money is on the Home Team.

Go, Falcons!

welikebaseball2

September 30th, 2010
12:46 am

So sick of hearing folks say we only won because of a missed 29-yard field goal. I guess 202 yards rushing had little to do with it, as well as a couple timely sacks & QB pressures from the defense. Whatever. Can’t wait until we meet those guys again & beat them soundly…just to see what “miscue” they blame that loss on. Better teams make fewer “miscues” in crunchtime than the lesser teams.

NoShamSam

September 30th, 2010
1:01 am

Where are we ranked when we get our wide receiver back????

The Grinch

September 30th, 2010
1:39 am

I’m still worried about the left tackle and no. 2 wideout spots, but every team has flaws and right now if that’s all we have to worry about we’re in good shape.

Please GOD don’t let us lose in Philly; the poo-flinging monkeys will hijack the blog for the rest of the season no matter what else happens.

The Grinch

September 30th, 2010
1:43 am

Also agreed that Snelling is a more impressive back right now than Turner. But having two big backs to alternate in this scheme is not such a bad thing, especially when you occasionally hand it to Ovie. That guy’s a beast.

Hopeful Falcon Fan

September 30th, 2010
4:35 am

Jeff: In my opinion, the Falcons have played much better than expected
in the first 3 games. I thought they would be no better than 1-2. However,
I think its way too early to set Super Bowl expectations for this team. I truly hope that all the fans who are on that bandwagon are right but I believe we
need to wait until at least 8 games have been played to make such lofty
predictions. With the win over NO, I do believe they will have a good
chance to win the NFL South.

HATinGA

September 30th, 2010
4:57 am

There is alot of luck involved in football ,I keep hearing about that missed FG in the NO game but luck goes both ways yall forget at the start of the 4th quarter we stoped NO deep on there side of the field there punter was on his 5yd line shanks one so bad it hits our guy in the foot, we were up by 3 and would have had the ball at the 50 we would have but the game away, instead because of LUCK they take the lead. Luck goes both ways.

Larry

September 30th, 2010
5:22 am

Jeff,

I predict we will learn as much or more about our Falcons’ players and coaching this Sunday as we did last Sunday as they come off an emotional, overtime victory to face a talented and desperate (0-3) 49er team. True, mature championship-ready teams win these types of game–anyone cant get up against a perennial rival and reigning Super Bowl champion).

If there ever was a trap game to bring everyone back down to earth it is this! The Falcons now have the QB and talent to compete with anyone, but do they have they emotional maturity, desire and discipline to take care of business in a game like this…we’ll soon find out!

Najeh Davenpoop

September 30th, 2010
5:49 am

If you beat the defending Super Bowl champions in their own house and you’re not ranked at least in the top 10, something is wrong. And considering how weak the NFC is once you get past the top 3 or 4 teams, it’s not hard to see why the Falcons are a trendy Super Bowl pick. Right now, the only teams that look like they even have a shot at the NFC Championship Game are New Orleans, Atlanta, Green Bay, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The NFC West is a joke, the NFC East is having a down year other than the Eagles, the Vikings are in serious trouble, and Tampa doesn’t have the talent to keep up their pace over the course of the season.

watchandsee

September 30th, 2010
6:03 am

Falcons? Super Bowl?
Week 3?
It is to laugh.

robertussen

September 30th, 2010
6:40 am

too early for superbowl talk, lets take it a game at a time. and a good team with a really bad record in san fran at 0-3 is coming to the dome on sunday. i know we are a talented team and could go all the way but there are a whole lot of other really talented teams and luck has a lot to do with it (look at the saints lasts year)

Samuel

September 30th, 2010
6:43 am

Consistency and hard work every week will keep the Falcons in the news. Now we must go out and beat a desperate team in the Fortyniners. Let’s build on that solid play from last week.

Chuck

September 30th, 2010
6:43 am

Again, with “experts”. Jeff Schultz and the experts picked the Falcons and their overrated QB to beat the Steelers. Quiet this racket down. The Falcons will implode.

FalconUGAFan

September 30th, 2010
6:45 am

Jeff I hope you follow up this article with one that talks about how this is week 3 and the Falcons better keep thier heads out of the clouds because they play a pretty darn ticked off team with little to lose on Sunday.