Perhaps you noted during minicamp that Matt Ryan said to the world’s worst journalist — that’d be me — that he believes the Falcons are “a lot closer to 12 or 13 wins than to eight.” Twelve or 13 wins would make this a really good team. The esteemed Peter King of SI.com, however, regards it differently.
In his newest power rankings, Mr. King ranks the Falcons 16th in a 32-team league, which would be the utter definition of mediocrity. He also sees the Falcons as the third-best team in the four-team NFC South, behind both New Orleans (No. 5) and Carolina (No. 8).
That’s correct. He has the Panthers, who historically are the NFL most’s overrated bunch, eight spots ahead of the Falcons. Mr. King believes dumping Jake Delhomme and will propel Carolina onward and upward, which it might. But still: A team with an unproven quarterback (Matt Moore) and a potential lame duck of a head coach (John Fox) is going to jump above the Falcons, who with all their injuries still finished a game ahead of the Panthers in 2009?
(Oh, yes. One thing more. Julius Peppers no longer plays for Carolina.)
Enough. The point here isn’t to argue with the esteemed PK but to note his reasons for not loving the Falcons. Quoth Mr. King:
The Falcons are healthier, and better. I just think there are two teams in the division better right now — unless Matt Ryan has a Drew Brees-type year. I don’t think he has one of those in him … yet. Not many quarterbacks do.
OK, a bit more quibbling (sorry, can’t resist): The whole point of the Falcons’ offseason — signing Dunta Robinson, drafting Sean Weatherspoon — was to upgrade the defense to the extent the Falcons don’t have to score 30 points a game to win. And I can’t understand how Carolina minus Peppers is a more enticing team than the Falcons plus Robinson.
But reasonable folks can, I submit, disagree reasonably. And I guess that’s what I’m doing here. Because I think the 2010 Falcons will be really, really good. Division-winning good.