Atlanta Falcons: NFC Power Rankings, Week 17

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. . Previous: . New Orleans Saints. 12. team. 15

The New Orleans Saints have to win shootouts to win football games. So far in 2015, they have won six shootouts, including Week 16’s 38-27 home victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. This defense is an all-time bad one, on par with the awful unit from only a few years ago. The secondary gave up a 90-yard touchdown to Allen Robinson on Sunday!

However, Drew Brees is still a relentless competitor and will do everything in his power to defeat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Whether or not owner Tom Benson wants to, he may have to consider some serious front office moves, as the Saints can’t sustain competitiveness with this bad of a defensive football team.

48. . . Previous: . Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 11. team

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now lost three straight games since defeating the Atlanta Falcons at home in Week 13. For a while there, the Bucs had their shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. However, growing pains are part of the game when toting out a rookie quarterback on Sundays.

The Bucs have the makings of a tremendous offense over the next few years, assuming that the organization keeps Dirk Koetter in Tampa. On the other hand, the defense and particularly the secondary has not grown as initially intended by hiring Tampa 2 guru Lovie Smith as head coach in 2014.

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. Previous: . Philadelphia Eagles. 10. team. 54.

This is about where I feel the most comfortable putting the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia has been the most difficult team to gauge in the NFC all year and we now know that they aren’t a particularly good football team.

However, with all the questionable roster moves made by head coach Chip Kelly, perhaps he is over performing a bit with this team. A worse coach would have this team at 3-12 entering the final week of the season. The special teams are great, but this team is far from a complete football team under Kelly at this point in the season.

50. . . Previous: . Detroit Lions. 9. team

The Lions have clawed their way back to being a respectable football team. After starting the year 1-7, the Detroit Lions have gone 5-2 and have likely pushed themselves out of picking in the top ten. They’ve won two straight and their only two losses over the last two months have been on a hail mary by Green Bay and a one-touchdown loss at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.

With Chicago on the slate for Sunday, the Detroit Lions could very well finish at 7-9. At the midway point of 2015, four wins seemed impossible for this club. They may come up a win short of doubling that this season. While 2015 didn’t go as planned for the Detroit Lions, they should contend again in the NFC next year.

Next: Tier II: Projected Wild Card Teams and First Two Out