The Falcons fell below .500 for the hundredth time since 2017 at the hands of the Chargers in a contest they had every chance to win. Blame should be shared, though. Arthur Smith didn’t have his best game; Marcus Mariota looked incapable of completing a pass further than 15+ yards down the field, and when he did, pass catchers dropped the targets. Still, the team has everything right in front of them. There is still a clear path to the postseason, and the national outlets hardly let the loss to LA affect their NFL Week 10 power rankings.
16. Falcons (15 last week): The Falcons are 4-5 and in contention in the NFC South for one reason — their run game. And within that, it’s impossible to pick one player, because starter Cordarrelle Patterson missed four weeks with a knee injury and the team continued rolling without him on the ground with a balanced room, led by Tyler Allgeier‘s 423 yards, 384 from Patterson and 299 from Caleb Huntley. So it might seem like a cop-out, but no one has been more valuable to the Falcons’ than their backs, and it’s hard to separate one from the others in terms of production and importance so far this season.
17. Falcons (18 last week): With the Falcons and Chargers tied at 17 and just under five minutes to play, Marcus Mariota bought some time in the pocket and spotted Kyle Pitts, who had broken free, with a safety and corner in hopeless pursuit. If Mariota hits his dynamic young tight end in stride, it’s very likely a 73-yard touchdown and possibly a game-winner. Instead, Mariota overshot Pitts by 5 yards, one of a host of inaccurate throws from the QB in a 20-17 loss. Mariota has had his moments this season, but Atlanta’s run-heavy scheme is — in some ways, one could surmise — cover-up for a quarterback who can’t shoot straight. It’s hard to imagine Arthur Smith wanting to run this arrangement back in ’23.
18. Falcons (21 last week): A team that’s passed for 1,415 yards has nearly been lapped through the air, surrendering a league-high 2,700. But Atlanta remains tied for first place in the NFC South despite being such a football anachronism.
17. Falcons (15 last week): That Chargers game was there for the taking. Gotta capitalize on those opportunities.