Friday, September 8, 2023

Atlanta Falcons Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Atlanta Falcons in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 28

On the hot seat: QB Desmond Ridder

Ridder is entering his first full season as a starting NFL quarterback, and the Falcons have invested a lot around him, from three top-10 picks in receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and offensive option Bijan Robinson to signing right guard Chris Lindstrom to the biggest contract for a guard in NFL history. If Ridder plays well, Atlanta might have one of the most intriguing offenses in the NFL. If he doesn't, the Falcons will have questions at quarterback for another 12 months. -- Michael Rothstein -- Rank: 17

Awaiting Desmond Ridder is a chance to prove he is indeed Atlanta's quarterback of the future. I think the Falcons are providing Ridder a pretty darned good surrounding cast -- a strong O-line, a potentially elite pair of running backs, Drake London, Kyle Pitts and, if healthy, Cordarelle Patterson. I also like Mack Hollins as a sneaky big-play option. With the blocking and run game, Ridder should be in favorable second- and third-down situations. If the defense becomes more of a takeaway unit (had just 17 last season) or generates a better pass rush (a 3.6% sack rate won't cut it again) -- and I anticipate improvement in both areas -- it'll give Ridder better field position, too. Don't snooze on the Falcons, folks.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 28

If Desmond Ridder improves, they will score a lot of points. But the defense has some issues. They will benefit playing in a bad division.

USA Today -- Rank: 17

If they had a more proven option under center than Desmond Ridder, Atlanta would be a legitimate threat for a top-three seed in the NFC playoffs. (But they might just be anyway.)

The Athletic -- Rank: 21

Best-case scenario: Bijan Robinson quickly establishes himself as the best running back in the league, and the duo of Drake London and Kyle Pitts allows Desmond Ridder a wide margin of error on his throws. With a great offensive line, it all adds up to a top-five offense, with Arthur Smith zagging with a big-boy offense against defenses built to stop the passing game. First-time defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen turns out to be a shrewd hire, and the money spent in the offseason on Jessie Bates III and three defensive line upgrades turn one of the worst defenses in football to league average. They wrap up the division by Week 15.

Worst-case scenario: Ridder plays like a third-round pick who couldn't beat out Marcus Mariota last season, and Arthur Blank finally starts to wonder why such a run-heavy offense spent three consecutive top-10 picks on pass catchers who don't get the ball enough and a running back who is good but not entirely that much better than last year's fifth-rounder. The defense still stinks.

FOX -- Rank: 22

A lot of smart people are high on the Falcons because they have a good offensive line, fantastic skill players and some strong new additions on defense. That all sounds great as long as you're willing to overlook the most important position in the sport. It's not that I think Desmond Ridder is bad, it's just that I need to see him do more before I can put Atlanta any higher than this.

Yahoo! -- Rank: 21

We didn't see much of the Falcons in preseason, but enough to know Bijan Robinson looks as good as advertised and that Desmond Ridder still needs to be a little sharper. The Falcons are going to be fun and if everything comes together — Kyle Pitts is healthy, Ridder is adequate, the defense has improved — they could be a playoff team in a weak NFC.

PFT -- Rank: 26

It all comes down to what Desmond Ridder can, or can't, do.

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