- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Falcons' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 4 | Last Week: No. 30 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
The Falcons moved up one spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings to No. 29 after a 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills.
It was a much-needed victory for the Falcons after entering the game on a five-game losing streak (as well as a five-game skid in road games). More than anything, it showed the team had no quit despite its surprising 3-9 record this season.
Although rookie cornerback Robert Alford was scolded for throwing a lateral after recovering a game-changing overtime fumble -- forced by safety William Moore -- he showed progress while playing 35 defensive snaps. In fact, he played more snaps than starter Asante Samuel (28). It all goes back to Mike Smith's goal of giving the younger players more playing time down the stretch in preparation for next season.
Rookie tackle Ryan Schraeder(27 offensive snaps) also got a more extensive look. So if the Falcons can continue to climb up the Power Rankings while incorporating youth into the equation, it only bodes well for the future.
But here's the downside, at least in the eyes of fans: According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Falcons would have the No. 4 pick in the draft as it stands today. More wins means less of a chance to grab the No. 1 overall pick.