Ask the Expert: Pat Yasinskas

Reggie Roberts:Give us your take on the red-hot Atlanta Falcons. They are 5-0 for the first time in their history, but they don't seem to be getting very much respect from the national media. How good are the Falcons?

Pat Yasinskas: I think everyone recognizes the Falcons are good and the 5-0 start isn't a total surprise. But I think some in the national media are a little hesitant to fully "buy in'' because this team hasn't won a playoff game in the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era. But, if the Falcons keep doing what they're doing, I don't think that will be any issue any longer once January gets here.

RR: It was an emotional night on Sunday in New Orleans as the Saints recorded their first victory of the season and Drew Brees eclipsed a record that had stood for more than 50 years.  Can this win jumpstart the 2012 season for the Saints?

PY: I'm still not ruling out any team that has Drew Brees. But let's be totally honest here. The Saints dug a very deep hole with the 0-4 start. They have very little margin for error the rest of the way. They'll have to play pretty close to perfect football and, from what I've seen so far, they're a long way from being a perfect team.

RR:Let's switch back to the Falcons, who are attempting to record their sixth consecutive win on Sunday with the 1-3 Raiders coming to town.  What can fans expect from this matchup at the Georgia Dome where the Falcons are 28-6 since 2008?

PY: On paper, it should be an easy one for the Falcons. The Raiders aren't very good. But I'd like to see the Falcons come out and fully put a complete game together in all three phases. They haven't really done that yet, but they have the ability to do so. That would be a very nice way to head into the bye week.

RR:The surprise of the 2012 season has to be the Minnesota Vikings who sit atop the NFC North with a 4-1 record. Why are the Vikings off to such a hot start?

PY: This might be the most amazing story in the league. I thought the Vikings would be buried in a very competitive division. Quarterback Christian Ponder is playing much better in his second year and the Vikings have a defense that's becoming dangerous.

RR:Despite trailing in the first quarter 14-0, the New York Giants got their offense rolling and defeated the Cleveland Browns 41-27. Are the Giants the best team in the NFL?

PY:If they're not, they're close. I think you have to start with the Texans and the Falcons, simply because they're undefeated. But the Giants are right there, too. Plus, the way Tom Coughlin coaches and the way Eli Manning plays, you always know the Giants are going to be right there in December and January.

RR:What were your thoughts on what took place in Kansas City on Sunday when starting QB Matt Cassel was knocked from the game?

PY:Very sad. I know Cassel hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations fans had for him. But to have hometown fans cheering when your quarterback is injured, should never happen. I think fans clearly crossed the line on that one.

RR:And finally, the St. Louis Rams had a big game last Thursday as they recorded 9 sacks en route to defeating the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals 17-3.  Are the Rams good enough to challenge for a playoff spot?

PY:They're playing in what is starting to look like a very competitive division. But I think the Rams can be in the mix. They've stockpiled a lot of early draft picks in recent years and they have some great young talent. We all know Jeff Fisher is a good coach, so anything is possible.

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