The Atlanta Falcons are now tied for the NFC South lead with the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers after the team’s 23-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The club sits at 2-2 but probably should be in sole possession of the division after a fourth-quarter collapse against the Saints. Still, the Falcons are playing great ball — pounding the rock on the ground with timely turnovers from the defense.
The team is very clearly still rebuilding; they have the least amount of cap dollars allocated to active rostered players. But don’t tell anyone in Flowery Branch that. Arthur Smith has this team believing in themselves, fighting tooth and nail to the final whistle. It’s commendable, and that belief is now resonating outside the city of Atlanta as the Falcons get love from the national media.
I’ll keep saying it about the @AtlantaFalcons
If Mariota doesn’t turn the ball over they will give people absolute dog fights in Nov and Dec
-their run game is diverse as heck
-they have outrageous size on perimeter
-defense is creative
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) October 3, 2022
Then, Peter Shrager went on Good Morning Football on the NFL Network to tell the world he loves the Falcons and their gritty persona, even dubbing them the 2022 version of the Bengals, who defied all odds and made it to the Super Bowl last year.
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) October 4, 2022
I do love the Falcons getting the acknowledgment they deserve, but I’d pump the breaks if I were Shrags. There is one key difference between the Bengals of last year and the Falcons this year — quarterback play. Marcus Mariota certainly isn’t the worst starter in the league, but this offense undoubtedly has a ceiling with him as signal caller. Joe Burrow is already one of the best players at his position, and he’s arguably the best young quarterback in the league, not named Patrick Mahomes. The playoffs are indeed a possibility for the Falcons with the NFC South struggling, but it’s still a longshot, in my opinion.
The good news is the Saints sold their soul to remain relevant, the Buccaneers are at the end of their reign with Tom Brady’s future uncertainty, and the Panthers are a complete dumpster fire. If Atlanta can figure out the quarterback position, they’ll be perennial playoff contenders because their division is one of the weakest ones in football.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire