NEW YORK (AP) -- Comments on the Atlanta Falcons by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
ATLANTA FALCONS (10)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 13) - Must figure out playoffs are different than regular season.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 12) - Julio Jones looks poised for breakout season. Showdowns with Saints likely determine who wins NFC South.
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 7) - Will survive division and finally win a playoff game.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 12) - If Saints stumble in post-Bountygate season, Falcons there to take over. But this is no longer about regular season excellence. This is about winning a playoff game - or more - in Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 10) - Have fairest schedule in NFL - never playing back-to-back games either home or on road.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 9) - Bountygate gives Falcons an opening. Now, can Matt Ryan win a playoff game?
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 10) - Coming off impressive preseason, Matt Ryan needs to recapture his form as one of league's premier young QBs.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 8) - Have won 43 regular season games in last four years and Matt Ryan and his weapons are better now. Defense needs more pass rush and pass protection is an issue.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 7) - Model organization from Arthur Blank to Mike Smith to Matt Ryan on down, and it now has to man up in playoffs.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 11) - Julio Jones displayed ''Megatron''-like talent during preseason, but Falcons still have issues along offensive line and suspect pass rush outside of John Abraham.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 11) - Team has flown way under radar through camp and preseason, but that might not last long.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
- Atlanta Falcons
- Matt Ryan
- Julio Jones
- Sporting News