- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Falcons' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 4 | Last Week: 20 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Falcons climbed three spots last week to No. 20, then fell right back down to No. 23 following a 27-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Fans tempered their enthusiasm about the Falcons after they beat the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few weeks back. Now you know why. The Falcons didn’t do much of anything right against the Cardinals on either side of the ball. What upset coach Mike Smith the most was the procedural penalties against the offense. Also inexcusable was an 80-yard touchdown surrendered to Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, a play the Falcons prepared for in practice leading up to the game, yet still allowed to happen.
We already know how injuries have decimated the Falcons, but that’s no excuse for mental breakdowns.
At 2-5, the outlook looks bleak for the Falcons moving forward. First, they face a streaking Carolina Panthers team that stands 12th in the rankings. Plus the Falcons still have the Seahawks (No. 4), Saints (No. 5), 49ers (No. 6) and Packers (No. 8) left on the schedule, with the latter two on the road.
The Falcons might have to consider giving their younger players more and more playing time to prepare for the future. This season looks like a lost one, unless Matt Ryan finds some magical way to engineer an improbable, nine-game winning streak.