Saturday, September 11, 2021

Atlanta Falcons Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Atlanta Falcons rank in terms of average, best and worst:

  • Average ranking: 24.6 (25th)
  • Best ranking: 22nd (CBS Sports)
  • Worst ranking: 26th (Multiple)

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Falcons in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 26

Person on the hot seat: QB Matt Ryan

This is a transitional year for everyone in the organization. Head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot are in their first seasons and will have time to construct the team in their images. The biggest question is what to do at quarterback. If Ryan leads the Falcons to success, he is probably around until the end of his contract in 2023. But if things falter, Smith and Fontenot might elect to start anew. It's a tricky line to walk, but the 2021 season could dictate the path of the Falcons for the next four to six seasons. -- Michael Rothstein -- Rank: 23

Have you held your fantasy draft yet? No? Then get yourself as many Falcons players as possible. Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts are no-brainers in a year where the same old questions persist around the Atlanta defense. Dean Pees came out of his second retirement to lead Arthur Smith's defense, but the 72-year-old coach doesn't inherit a well-stocked cupboard. One player who needs to step up: outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., who took a $7 million pay cut(!) after managing just three sacks in 14 games a year ago. The Falcons desperately need Fowler to play like the feared pass rusher he was with the Rams.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 26

They are a tough team to evaluate under first-year coach Arthur Smith. Matt Ryan should put up big numbers, but the defense has issues rushing the passer, which could keep this team down.

USA Today -- Rank: 24.6

New coach Arthur Smith's offense works very well ... when Henry is carrying the load. But how effective will it be with journeyman RB Mike Davis -- and without Julio Jones, who joined Smith's old crew in Nashville?

The Athletic -- Rank: 22

Why they're ranked here: In part because it's unclear what their long-term plan is. Trading Julio Jones hints at a rebuild. Keeping Matt Ryan and using the No. 4 pick on a tight end doesn't. Ryan is 36 years old and is tasked with trying to get the most out of a roster that, despite Calvin Ridley's presence, isn't very good. Perhaps that's why no one on our 25-person panel had the Falcons better than No. 19 and eight voters had them in the bottom five.

One big question: Are Ryan and Ridley good enough to make this a .500 team? And if not, what's Ryan's future with the franchise he's played for since 2008? Without a big year from Ryan that leads to a surprise season from the Falcons, it seems likely they'll be looking for a new quarterback in the first round next April.

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