As another NFL season begins Thursday night, ESPN has released its power rankings of all 32 teams just in time. The Atlanta Falcons check in at No. 2, which was fairly surprising to me. In the past week, they’ve hurdled the San Francisco 49ers (now No. 3) and Denver Broncos (No. 4).
I’m not sure why.
Power rankings measure where each team stands right now, not where they’re expected to be at the end of the season. I could understand the Falcons being ranked No. 2 if it projected teams to the end of the year — it isn’t much of a stretch to think the Falcons could be one of the final two teams playing at season’s end.
But right now, the Falcons don’t look like the second-sharpest team in the NFL, and any questions we had about the squad weren’t answered in the preseason games. The offensive line didn’t protect quarterback Matt Ryan any better than we thought they would, and the defense didn’t exactly shine.
(Also read: My take on Jameis Winston’s incredible performance)
It’s not just the Falcons I question. I’m also a little curious about ESPN’s decision to give the Seattle Seahawks the top spot in the final power rankings of the preseason. I understand the Seahawks are the popular pick to make huge strides in 2013 after a solid 2012, but again, I find it hard to believe they’re the strongest team in the league right now. Would they really beat the Broncos in Week 1? Or the 49ers? Or the New England Patriots?
I doubt it.
Lists like this should be taken with a grain of salt, and while it’s nice to be given plenty of preseason credit by experts, it only raises the bar even higher for a Super-Bowl-or-bust season in Atlanta.