NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Focus on the Atlanta Falcons

Rob BeloteSenior Analyst IDecember 24, 2010

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 19:  Running back Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Doing power rankings are tough, but because of the limited number of games on an NFL schedule, it's one of the only ways to get an idea for which teams are better than one another given factors other than just their records. 

At my site——I do a weekly power ranking of all 32 NFL teams.  It's a hugely subjective process in which I account for a team's strength of schedule, margin of victory, good wins and bad losses.

Where do the Atlanta Falcons currently rank?

They have a fairly good résumé.  The Week 1 loss in Pittsburgh isn't too harmful to their cause, as it was the beginning of the year, and the game was played on the Steelers' home turf.  With the Steelers still firmly in the Top 10 all season (spending part of it in the Top Five), a narrow loss there actually looks decent on the record as one of the Falcons' two losses.

The other loss on the Falcons' record is also not terrible, as the Eagles have shown that they are capable of looking unstoppable, and as that game was played in Philly, it's understandable that Atlanta had troubles there.

Where the wins are concerned, the drubbing of the Cardinals looks decent, but no one thinks Arizona is a contender this year.  Beating the Saints in New Orleans actually looks better than the Cardinals game, given that division road games are tough spots. 

Only beating the 49ers by two when the game was played in Georgia is a slight disappointment.  The wins over Cleveland and Cincinnati were decent, but neither of the Ohio squads are in the top half of the league right now.  Beating Tampa Bay in Georgia is a win that the Falcons had to have if they're going to be a playoff team.

The best wins for the Falcons to date would have to be their victory over Baltimore in Week 10 and then a Week 12 win over the Packers.  Although the victory over Green Bay was only by three points, and it took place in Georgia, the slightly underwhelming victory was still a victory nevertheless.  With Baltimore and Green Bay both being Top five teams, those victories certainly helped cement Atlanta's argument for being a Top five team as well.

Beating the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay and then beating the Panthers in Carolina are both decent wins, considering that road games in the division are often tougher than the teams respective records might cause one to think when looking at the matchup.  The victory over the Bucs was only by four, but the win over the Panthers was by three touchdowns.

Getting a victory over the Seahawks this season isn't a huge accomplishment, but because they're on the opposite side of the country, the fact that Atlanta was able to basically double the Seahawks' points en route to a convincing victory is the most impressive thing about it (and it's not like it was 14 to 7 or 20 to 10... racking up 30+ points is always a good thing).

As one of the only two 12 win teams in the NFL (and with no 11 win teams), the Falcons are easily in the top two.  The Patriots had held the top spot, but I wouldn't consider their Week 15 victory to be very impressive.  The Packers are a really good team... with Aaron Rodgers.  Due to injury, Matt Flynn was under center when Green Bay traveled to Massachusetts, and with New England hosting the game it seemed like the Patriots were going to dominate again.  They didn't, and the Packers actually had an opportunity at the end of the game to pick up a victory.  Like I said, not impressive.

So how did I compare the rest of Atlanta's résumé to what New England has done?

For the complete rankings and analysis, check out the article on my website,! Unlike Power Rankings you see elsewhere, your comments could help persuade me to rank your team better after Week 16!

You also will probably enjoy voicing your opinion through voting in nearly a dozen polls set up to help get people's feedback on the Power Rankings!

You also might like the dueling NFL Week 16 picks article on, a new(ish) feature where the games on a given week's NFL schedule are debated between myself and another author on my site (who just happens to be a LIFELONG PHILADELPHIA EAGLES FAN, so you KNOW he's got a high opinion of his opinion!).