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Senior NFL Columnist

NFL Power Rankings: Falcons soaring, look like playoff lock with easy slate


Here's your lesson for the day: Take a look at the Atlanta Falcons' remaining 12 games and tell me how they don't make the playoffs -- aside from a major injury.

The Falcons are a surprising 4-0 at the quarter point, and coach Dan Quinn has to be the early favorite for NFL Coach of the Year. Looking at their remaining schedule, don't expect a lot to change.

I am not going say the Falcons are a Super Bowl team, but they have a really good quarterback in Matt Ryan, a great receiver in Julio Jones, an improved offensive line and a defense that is playing faster under Quinn.

And that schedule.

Of the Falcons' remaining 12 games, two are against a team with a winning record. And both those games are against 4-0 Carolina, a division foe tied with Atlanta for the NFC South lead.

There also are games against the likes of the Bucs (twice), the Saints (twice), the 49ers and the Jaguars. The best team other than the Panthers left to play is the Colts or Vikings, two 2-2 teams.

The Falcons are up to the sixth spot in these Power Rankings, and I wouldn't see them falling much past 10-12 the rest of the way, and even that seems improbable.

The Falcons still lack talent on defense, but Quinn has done a nice job of getting the most out of what he has. Corner Desmond Trufant is proving to be an elite cover player, which helps.

Carolina has a tougher schedule, which would likely make the Falcons the early favorite to win the division.

For now, the Falcons have proved a lot of preseason predictions wrong, including mine. Yes, I picked them to win five games. I get it, Falcons fans. Quit reminding me every Sunday on Twitter.

With that schedule, I think I'll be getting a lot more of it.

The Broncos' defense and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons are making noise. (CBSSports.com Original)
The Broncos' defense and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons are making noise. (CBSSports.com Original)


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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