NFL Power Rankings: Atlanta Falcons, Not Houston Texans, Should Be No. 1
In deciding between the teams, it's important to consider a few factors related to what makes an NFL team great.
To start off and respect the opposing side, it's rather clear that the Texans are a very good football team. In fact, I wrote a piece recently on why Arian Foster is the best running back in the league and you can disagree with me here.
Past that, the Texans have played very well up front this year behind star defensive end J.J. Watt and their defense has finally come into its own.
The Falcons, though, have the better team.
At quarterback, Matt Ryan has been the NFL's most valuable player for the season's quarter mark. Ryan has completed 102-of-147 (69.4 percent) of his passes for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Fortunately, for the Falcons, it seems as though Ryan has found his groove and is able to get the ball to all of his weapons.
The offensive firepower of the Falcons is mind blowing. The team has three pass catchers who would all be legitimately considered for a double team on any other team.
Roddy White, Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez each have three touchdowns in four games, which shows the team's ability to beat defenses over the top with a prolific passing attack.
Which team is better?
Atlanta is able to pass the ball with such success because of the way it's been able to run the ball. Michael Turner is having a big year with 257 yards and two touchdowns on just 55 carries, averaging to 4.7 yards every rushing attempt.
The Texans have had moderate success on offense, but they're more efficient than they are fantastic. Matt Schaub has been good, not great, completing 66.9 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and one interception in an up-and-down effort.
Arian Foster is Arian Foster, but Andre Johnson is starting to get older and the team has yet to establish a legitimate second threat in the passing game.
Last year, the Super Bowl champion New York Giants rode Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, two top-notch receiving threats, to a Super Bowl victory. Consider that over the last few years, the last four Super Bowl champions (Giants, Packers, Saints and Steelers) have each had a legitimate No. 2 option.
While Houston has good things going on defensively in the front seven and J.J Watt gives this team an advantage up front, the Falcons aren't slacking off with John Abraham and Ray Edwards rushing the passer.
Don't disregard Atlanta defender Sean Weatherspoon either, who is one of the most underrated players in the league and may be the best linebacker on either team.
While the debate is very close, the Falcons are just better at more things than the Texans are. Consider also that the Falcons are 4-0 after facing a tougher schedule than Houston has.
Atlanta has gotten wins over Kansas City, Denver, San Diego and Carolina while Houston has taken down Miami, Jacksonville, Denver and Tennessee. The Falcons are more battle-tested at this point and impressed many with a late comeback against Cam Newton's Panthers.
Behind stellar play from Matt Ryan and one of the best offenses in the NFL, it wouldn't surprise me if the Falcons were able to win shootouts against teams like the Patriots and Packers. The Texans, on the other hand, may not be able to do so.
That being said, while the Texans have a very good squad and will go far this season, the Falcons are the best team in the league and are atop my power rankings at the quarter point in the season.
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