Falcons Week 8 power rankings roundup

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Even though the Falcons have only managed to beat losing teams this season, there is still reason to be optimistic after winning two straight games and three of four. The two upcoming divisional matchups in Weeks 8 and 9 will be a big indicator as to how the rest of the season will play out.

Atlanta sits at 3-3 entering Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Let’s see where they are ranked in this week’s power rankings roundup.

USA Today | Falcons: No. 25 (+1)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“Appears they’ve figured out how to leverage Kyle Pitts’ estimable talents. After exploding for 282 receiving yards over the past two games, he’s on pace for 1,335 over the full season – which would obliterate Hall of Famer Mike Ditka’s rookie record for tight ends, 1,076 in 1961.” – USA TODAY’s Nate Davis.

Even being ahead of most teams in the NFC standings, Davis still has the Falcons at No. 25 in his power rankings. If the Falcons want to build upon their recent success, then they must lean heavily on rookie tight end Kyle Pitts for the next couple of weeks. Pitts is on pace to set a rookie record for receiving yards as a tight end.

NFC South rival rankings

  • Buccaneers: No. 3 (-/+)

  • Saints: No. 12 (-1)

  • Panthers: No. 27 (-12)

Week 8 opponent ranking

  • Panthers: No. 27 (-12)

Read USA TODAY’s full rankings here.

Touchdown Wire | Falcons: No. 22 (+4)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“The Falcons nearly blew the game against the Dolphins, but Younghoe Koo converted on a 36-yard kick with only seconds left. Atlanta won 30-28. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led the game-winning drive along with tight end Kyle Pitts, who had 163 total yards.” — Touchdown Wire’s Nick Wojton

Once again, Younghoe Koo kicks the Falcons to victory by nailing a 36-yarder as time expired. So far this year, Koo has been a consistent 10 for 10 on kicks and has only missed two total field goal attempts since the start of last season. Currently, Koo is on pace for 38 field goal attempts, one less than a year ago.

NFC South rival rankings

  • Buccaneers: No. 2 (+1)

  • Saints: No. 14 (+1)

  • Panthers: No. 21 (-2)

Week 8 opponent ranking

  • Panthers: No. 21 (-2)

Read Touchdown Wire’s full rankings here.

NFL.com | Falcons: No. 20 (+5)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts are officially a thing. The veteran quarterback and rookie phenom connected repeatedly on Sunday, including on two vital completions to set up Younghoe Koo’s game-winner in a 30-28 victory over the Dolphins in Miami. It’s hard to describe how different Pitts is: On the 28-yarder that put Atlanta in field-goal range in the final minutes, Pitts lined up on the outside against Xavien Howard, an All-Pro ballhawk who regularly shuts down No. 1 wideouts. Pitts beat Howard by a half step, then used his size to come down with the catch. Pitts’ performance the last two weeks (16/282/1) backs up the pre-draft hype that positioned the former Florida standout as a generational talent.” — NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus

The talk after Miami is the connection between Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts improving every week. The two seem more comfortable together and Pitts appears on track to becoming the Falcons go-to receiver in key moments. This was a role once belonged to Julio Jones and it was assumed that Calvin Ridley would take over in 2021. Hopefully Pitts’ improved role will open up the passing game for Ridley.

NFC South rival rankings

  • Buccaneers: No. 2 (+1)

  • Saints: No. 12 (-/+)

  • Panthers: No. 25 (-6)

Week 8 opponent ranking

  • Panthers: No. 25 (-6)

Read NFL.com’s full rankings here.

CBS Sports | Falcons No. 19 (+6)

(AP Photo/Hans Deryk)

“At 3-3, with a winnable game against the Panthers this week, they have really turned their season around. Matt Ryan is playing well and Kyle Pitts is emerging as a game-changing tight end.” — CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco

More praise has to be given to Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts. The more these two connect, the more they will be discussed. Even though the Panthers are falling by the wayside on offense, they still have a stout defense that always plays up to the Falcons when the two teams face off.

NFC South rival rankings

  • Buccaneers: No. 4 (-/+)

  • Saints: No. 12 (-3)

  • Panthers: No. 21 (-3)

Week 8 opponent ranking

  • Panthers: No. 21 (-3)

Read CBS Sports’ full rankings here.

ESPN | Falcons: No. 19 (+7)

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

“There were a few different options here (including the semblance of a Falcons pass rush), but I really believed Ridley would have a breakout season, putting him in the conversation with the NFL’s top 10 receivers. Instead, Ridley has just 281 yards receiving and a career-worst 9.1 yards per reception. The Falcons will need Ridley if they are to make a playoff run — at least a better version of the Ridley than they’ve been seeing over the first third of the season.” — ESPN’s Michael Rothstein

ESPN’s Rothstein is the first, and only one, to not mention Pitts in his reason for rankings. Instead, he highlights the underwhelming performance of Calvin Ridley so far. The lack of a true threat as an X receiver has played a role in the defenses playing more honest on Ridley, especially in the earlier weeks. With the emergence of Kyle Pitts, maybe this changes, but we need to see more of how Pitts plays and how much he progresses each week.

NFC South rival rankings

  • Buccaneers: No. 2 (+2)

  • Saints: No. 13 (+1)

  • Panthers: No. 24 (-7)

Week 8 opponent ranking

  • Panthers: No. 24 (-7)

Read ESPN’s full rankings here.

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