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Early Bird Report: Falcons continue to slip in power rankings

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes the Falcons’ position in various power rankings as well as an early mock draft that has Atlanta looking at defense.

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Week 14 power rankings:

The Falcons continue to tumble down the power rankings after losing their last four games. Be sure to check out Matt Tabeek’s Wildly Important Power Rankings in addition to the ones below.

NFL.com: No. 25 (Last week: No. 20)

“The Falcons pulled off the rare feat of losing to not just one but two backup quarterbacks Sunday. The season has been unkind to Atlanta's defense. The Ravens played like a 2018 cover band, shamelessly copying every other offense in running right over the Falcons' front seven. Chalk up another 207 yards on a unit that's allowed 211, 132 and 150 in successive weeks. Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson's abilities pose a unique threat for any opponent. Especially for Deion Jones, who faced a stiff challenge in his first game this season since Week 1. The dude shook off enough rust to make 15 tackles and sack Jackson.”

CBS Sports: No. 25 (LW: No. 23)

“It's hard to believe they are this far down. They just haven't looked right this season.”

ESPN: No. 21 (LW: No. 20)

“We're No. 1 in: Field goals. Matt Bryant and Giorgio Tavecchio are a combined 20-for-20 on field goals this season, making the Falcons the only team in the league that is perfect on field goals this season. But that isn't necessarily a good thing, as it includes the six games in which the Falcons' high-powered offense settled for field goals in the red zone. The Falcons lost five of those six games.”

MMQB: No. 21 (LW: No. 20)

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

CBS Sports: 2019 NFL mock draft

Draft season is still a ways away, but the first mock drafts are beginning to become a bit more frequent as the NFL season slowly draws to a close. For the first time in a while, the Falcons could be sitting right up near the top of the draft with the ability to land a premier player in this class. CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson released a mock draft on Wednesday, and he had the Falcons grabbing defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons with the No. 6 pick.

“We've spent months talking up Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver, but Simmons has been a disruptive interior force this season,” Wilson writes. “He has just one sack but he spends games in the backfield as evidenced by his 15.5 tackles for loss. In related news: The Falcons' defensive line is among the league's worst, according to Football Outsiders.”

To see the rest of Wilson’s mock draft, click here.

ESPN: If Falcons fall out of hunt, should they sit Matt Ryan?

Injuries have been a major storyline for the Falcons this season, and seven starters have been placed on injured reserve at some point this year. That list includes Atlanta’s two starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, which has had a noticeable impact on the offensive line.

Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan has been under constant pressure this season. He is currently on pace to be sacked 48 times, which would be the most in his 10-year NFL career. As of now, he’s been sacked 36 times.

"Well, No. 1, I'm concerned about it because if we're not protecting him in the way that we can, then that gets hard," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "And there's some games that the score's out of whack and it turns into a dropback game where there's going to be more chances for a defense to go after him.”

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure asked the question in a recent article, should the Falcons sit Ryan if they are mathematically eliminated from the postseason. Given Ryan’s ultra-competitive nature, that seems like a long-shot, but go ahead and read McClure’s piece to see what he has to say.

The Ringer: Winners and losers from Week 13

After a loss like the Falcons just had, you may already think you know where Atlanta would fit in an article that separates winners and losers. This one comes with a twist, however, as it’s Mohamed Sanu who is the Falcons player mentioned in this piece. His perfect 6-for-6 career passing mark came to an end Sunday, leaving the Ringer’s Rodger Sherman quite sad.

“It was a great day for every passing non-quarterback except the greatest to ever do it,” Sherman writes. “Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons wide receiver who began his passing career 6-for-6 with 228 yards and three touchdowns, threw an incompletion on a trick play Sunday. He maintains his 158.3 career quarterback rating, but loses his 100 percent completion percentage.

“We can no longer argue that Sanu is literally a perfect passer. We know that it is possible for him to throw a ball that is not caught. I can no longer end paragraphs about his surprising passing success with a cheap joke like “he should start over Matt Ryan,” like I just did for OBJ. Nothing gold can stay, not even trick plays.”

AJC: Sad Falcons somehow this bad on offense

Sunday’s loss to the Ravens was exactly what the Falcons did not want to have happen. It’s not just that they lost the game, but it’s how they lost the game.

A once high-flying offense scored 9 points and gained 131 total yards, while the defense allowed the Ravens to possess the ball for nearly 40 minutes and had three third-down penalties that resulted in first downs.

As Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in his column, the most surprising aspect of Sunday’s game was how far the Falcons’ offense has fallen in recent weeks.

“The Falcons had slipped offensively before Sunday, but I couldn’t have imagined they could ever be this bad,” Cunningham writes. “Less than two years after this offense was so good, the Falcons need to rethink where it’s going. They have most of the same faces, but they need honest self-evaluations of their coaches and players.”

To read the rest of Cunningham’s column, click here.

ESPN: Falcons offense fails at wrong time of season

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure also wrote about the offense after the game, noting that it was not long ago that the unit was believed to be able to carry the Falcons in most games. That has not been the case during their current losing streak, and he notes that it failed again on Sunday.

“Such hasn't been the case for the Falcons over the past 22 days during a four-game losing streak that put any playoff talk to rest,” McClure writes. “They have averaged just 17 points per game over that span while dropping to 4-8.

“Sunday's 26-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens magnified all that has gone wrong for the Falcons on the offensive side of the ball. They knew they had a challenge against the league's top defense in the Ravens, but no one would have expected the Falcons to gain 131 net yards, their lowest total in a game since managing just 106 in a 26-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 12, 1999.”

To read the rest of McClure’s piece, click here.

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