It's four games into the season and the Falcons have a two-game lead in the NFC South.
Anybody who tells you they expected that is lying. Or they play for the Falcons.
Asked following Sunday's 48-33 win over Carolina if the Falcons are the team to beat in their division, tackle Jake Matthews said, "“On yeah, no doubt. We knew we were the team to beat in the division going into the year. That’s the confidence that we have. We just have to take it one game at a time and keep doing what we are doing.”
What the Falcons are doing is pretty impressive, certainly offensively. Since opening the season with a 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay and two of their former coaches, Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith, the Falcons have won road games at Oakland (35-28) and New Orleans (45-32) and Sunday easily handled Carolina 48-33 in a short week following a Monday night game.
Matt Ryan (503 passing yards) and Julio Jones (12 catches for 300) both set franchise records. Ryan threw four touchdown passes and has eight in the last three games. The team had touchdown drives measuring 71, 98, 99, 92 and 75 yards.
Where does this leave the Falcons? Not where most anticipated four games into a seemingly murderous schedule. They have a two-game lead over Carolina (1-3) and Tampa Bay (1-3).
The Falcons started 5-0 and 6-1 last season and managed to miss the playoffs, so nobody is going to make any assumptions. But the offense is rolling and the defense looked better Sunday than it had all season, at least for three quarters (allowing the Panthers' offense only a field goal on their first seven possessions). The Panthers did most of their damage in the fourth when the Falcons switched to softer coverage (probably too early).
Coach Dan Quinn's view of the team's start is understandably cautious.
"We don't spend too much time looking too far down the road," he said. "We are trying to just stay focused on the week at hand. It brings us right back to the process of getting ready, and it's all the guys helping that process. It was a good team win against a really good division opponent. We'll leave it there."
That's probably wise.
Has you viewpoint of the Falcons changed over the past few weeks?
Some recent ramblings
- It's early but Falcons are looking legit
- Will optics of Mark Richt (4-0) vs. Kirby Smart (3-2) get better for Georgia?
- Mark Richt makes his return and looks right at home again at Georgia Tech
- Best Braves memory at Turner Field: 2010 and Bobby Cox's final season
- Weekend Predictions: And now for something completely different -- Dogs win
- Falcons' Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home
- Falcons create a new memory for themselves in New Orleans
- Falcons can't create more happy memories for Saints
- LSU just fired Les Miles -- this is what lunacy looks like
- New Georgia looks a lot like the old Georgia
- Jacob Eason wasn't good but this isn't time to blame quarterback
- Weekend Predictions: NCAA over Ole Miss but Ole Miss over Dogs
- Credit Georgia Tech for going after the right choice in Stansbury
- Overreaction Monday: Everybody wins! What can possibly go wrong?
- Falcons' 35 points, 528 yards should quiet criticism of Shanahan
- Falcons put on an offense show -- and, yes, win
- Falcons try to avoid going from 0-1 to off the rails
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs rebound, Jackets win, Falcons fall
- Coppollella acknowledges on Twitter starters have been disappointing
- Politicians need to understand: Sports has a hammer -- get used to it
- Overreaction Monday: Red zone, tackling and can anybody run block?
- As season opens, it's Mike Smith 1, Falcons 0
- Georgia exposed by opponent it should've easily handled
- Smart's limited media access accomplishing nothing
- Weekend Predictions: Falcons over their exes; Dogs, Jackets cover
- Mets sign Tebow but he looks more like 'Sideshow Tim' than player
- If Braves sign Tebow, it's about circus and revenue, not baseball