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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 14 Atlanta Falcons

By Vaughn McClure

A weekly examination of the Falcons’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 4 | Last Week: 6 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Falcons, ranked No. 4 in the preseason, continued their slide from No. 6 to No. 14 as a result of a loss at Miami. Suddenly at 1-2, the Falcons find themselves facing a must-win game Sunday night against the undefeated Patriots.

Quarterback Matt Ryan can’t do it alone, and it's showing. Coach Mike Smith said his team needs to be more efficient in all areas. Against the Dolphins, the Falcons struggled in the red zone, couldn’t tackle, and had a crucial turnover on special teams.

That's not to mention how injuries have taken a toll on the team. Running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) won’t play against the Patriots, which doesn't help the Falcons' red zone woes. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) is out until at least Week 11, and his leadership will be missed.

And Roddy White, who has played through the pain of a high-ankle sprain, hasn’t been the same player through the first three games. Once White returns to full strength, the offensive should be dynamic once again.

Still, the Falcons have to learn how to close games. They’ve been outscored 48-24 in the second half this season. Super Bowl-caliber teams are supposed to be better than that.