Atlanta Falcons Deserve More Respect for 6-0 Start
But you wouldn't think so from the lack of respect they've received for their achievement.
To name a few examples:
CBSsports.com's Pete Prisco doesn't believe there are any good teams in the NFL right now—the Falcons included. While he has the Falcons atop his power rankings, just a week ago he ranked them behind the one-loss Houston Texans.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal has the Falcons ranked sixth in his most recent power poll, behind the 4-1 Chicago Bears, the 3-3 New England Patriots, the 4-2 San Francisco 49ers, the 5-1 Houston Texans and the 4-2 New York Giants.
NFL analyst Eddie George thought similarly in this Yahoo! sports video, in which he explains how the Giants are the NFC's "complete team" while he's not buying the Falcons because they're "barely beating" weak competition.
As if that matters.
Last I checked, the NFL isn't the BCS; style points don't matter.
The only thing that matters in this league is wins, and so far no other team is doing as well as the Falcons in that category.
Yes, they needed a last-minute Cam Newton turnover to beat the Panthers. Yes, they needed a late Michael Turner touchdown run to down the Redskins. Yes, they needed a 55-yard field goal to sneak past the Raiders.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
But the single common theme in all of those instances is, despite struggling, the Falcons left the field victorious in each of those contests.
And so I ask the doubters: Isn't struggling and winning better than struggling and losing?
Every team struggles at some point in the season.
The fact the Falcons have been able to overcome that adversity and continue to win shows just how much heart, commitment and confidence this team has.
They should be applauded, not discredited, for starting a perfect 6-0 despite playing imperfectly.
Of course, there may still be some of you who revert back to Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Mark Bradley's argument that the Falcons have defeated just weak teams thus far.
That may be true.
But if that argument's in play it needs to apply to everyone, not just the Falcons.
Let's take a look at the combined records of the teams this season's early playoff favorites have beaten:
Giants: 9-14 (.391 winning percentage)
49ers: 15-15 (.500)
Patriots: 8-10 (.444)
Are the Falcons getting enough respect for their 6-0 start?
Texans: 12-17 (.413)
Bears: 9-13 (.409)
Falcons: 12-22 (.352)
Sure, they're all better records than the Falcons' own opponents. But, the 49ers aside, not by much, and not when taking into account that only they and the Giants have beaten a team that currently holds a winning record.
All of the teams listed above have benefited from playing weaker teams. All teams in the NFL do. The difference is the Falcons simply have gotten the job done week in and week out, and that's why they're succeeding where it counts most: the win column.
Still, you could counter by saying that didn't do the team much good back in 2010, when the 10-6 Packers pummeled the 13-3 Falcons in the playoffs.
But these aren't the same old Falcons.
That 2010 team depended on a flawlessly executed gameplan to win.
This 2012 team is winning even when lacking one.
Admittedly, that could all change by season's end.
But right now the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons are the top team in the NFL, and should be respected as such.
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