The Falcons were embarrassed on national television last week. The Panthers dismantled the Falcons on Thursday Night Football in every facet of the game, and it was a not-so-gentle reminder that Atlanta is still a roster in desperate need of more talent. Because it was on national television, the NFL’s power rankings were going to be especially interesting. It was the most-watched Falcons game this year, and it was the team’s worse game of the year; they have tumbled down national outlets’ rankings.
20. Falcons (16 last week): “The Falcons cut Davidson from injured reserve after two lackluster seasons and 29 tackles with one sack, one tackle for loss and his career highlight for Atlanta — an interception return for a touchdown against Tom Brady in 2021. Another player to watch on the hot seat would be QB Marcus Mariota. Among the fan base, there are major questions and he has become a polarizing topic. He has done good things for Atlanta, particularly running the ball and getting the Falcons in the right plays, but his issues with accuracy (61.9% completion percentage) and his decision-making leads to questions about his medium- and long-term future as Atlanta’s starter.” — Michael Rothstein
22. Falcons (17 last week): “How much more patience can Arthur Smith have in Marcus Mariota? The veteran quarterback delivered another dud on Thursday Night Football, showing poor accuracy and suspect decision-making in a 25-15 loss to the Panthers. Mariota wasn’t the only no-show for Atlanta, which was outplayed on offense, defense and special teams by a Carolina team that had trailed its opponent 42-0 in the third quarter just four days earlier. With first place in the NFC South still conceivably within reach, Smith is hesitant to turn the season over to third-round rookie Desmond Ridder. Still, Mariota can’t have too much rope after his recent struggles.”
25. Falcons (17 last week): “It feels like it should be Desmond Ridder time, right? Atlanta is only one game back of Tampa Bay in the NFC South, so the season is still far from over. And Marcus Mariota is a real part of a rushing attack that ranks seventh in DVOA and fifth in EPA per rush. But it’s also important to enter the offseason with a clear view of the state of things at the most important position. Sooner than later, that will mean getting eyes on the offense with the rookie third-round pick at the helm.
If not now, following the post-Thursday mini-bye, perhaps Atlanta will see how things play out over the next three weeks (Chicago, at Washington, Pittsburgh) before its late-season Week 14 bye offers a chance for a natural reset.”
19. Falcons (17 last week): “Gotta start stacking wins to get back in this thing.”
For the most part, the Falcons dropped two places in last week’s NFL power rankings. The loss to the Chargers was close, but for the vast majority of outlets this week, Atlanta freefell. Only the team’s website (shocker) had the Falcons dropping two spots. Most had Arthur Smith’s team dropping at least four or five spots, while places like The Athletic had them dropping as many as eight spots. Winning cures all, though. We’ll check back in next week.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire