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Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 27 Atlanta Falcons

By Vaughn McClure

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

Preseason: 4 | Last Week: 28 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Atlanta Falcons probably deserved to move up more than one spot to No. 27 after Monday night’s hard-fought 34-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the final regular-season game at Candlestick Park.

The Falcons looked much better than their 4-11 record would indicate and even showed flashes of the high-powered offense that sparked a 13-3 finish and NFC Championship Game appearance a year ago.

Throw in the fact that the 49ers come in as this week’s No. 4 team in the Power Rankings, and it makes the Falcons’ showing that much more impressive.

As they prepare for their season finale against the No. 3-ranked Carolina Panthers, it’s still hard to grasp how a Falcons team ranked in the top five of the Power Rankings entering the season has hovered around the bottom for most of the year. Then again, losing a player as dangerous as Julio Jones changed the complexion of the offense, and the team.

At least the Falcons have gone down with a fight as of late. And the final game of tight end Tony Gonzalez's career this Sunday at the Georgia Dome is sure to make the Falcons play inspired football once again.