Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
NFL Power Rankings: Falcons stay put

By Pat Yasinskas

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off their most impressive win of the season and they remain tied for the league’s best record. But that’s not enough for them to make a move in the latest edition of the ESPN.com Power Rankings.

The Falcons stayed at No. 5 for the second consecutive week with only John Clayton showing them much respect. Clayton had the Falcons at No. 1 on his ballot. He also had the Falcons at No. 1 last week, even before the 34-0 victory against the Giants. I talked to Clayton about his vote last week and he said he put the Falcons there because he thought their record should count for something. I talked to Clayton on Monday and he felt some vindication about his vote.

But the rest of the panelists placed the Falcons at No. 5 or No. 6, which I think is at least a couple spots too low.

The New Orleans Saints also recorded a shutout Sunday (41-0 against Tampa Bay) and they jumped four spots to No. 18. The Saints are the highest-ranked of the 6-8 teams, so I think it’s fair to say they’re the best 6-8 team in football.

Despite their horrendous performance, the Bucs fell only two spots to No. 20. The Carolina Panthers, who had a big win against San Diego, climbed three spots to No. 23. At this point, I think you could at least make a case the Panthers are better than the Bucs based on how both teams have played recently.