LEADOFF: Where Falcons, Braves, Hawks, Atlanta United rank in their leagues


Good morning. This is LEADOFF, an early look at Atlanta sports. 

With the Falcons’ season well under way, the Braves’ season days from ending, the Hawks in training camp and Atlanta United headed to the playoffs, let’s check the power rankings to see where Atlanta’s teams stand in their sports. 

The Falcons, who are 3-0, rate among the NFL’s top three teams this week in all six sets of rankings we surveyed. CBS Sports and ESPN rank the Falcons No. 1 among the league’s 32 teams. NFL.com, USA Today and Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback rank them No. 2 (behind the Chiefs, the NFL’s only other unbeaten team, in all three cases). And Bleacher Report ranks the Falcons No. 3 (behind the No. 1 Patriots and No. 2 Chiefs). ESPN noted that “with home games against the Bills and Dolphins coming up, (the Falcons) could very well be 5-0 heading into a Super Bowl rematch against the Patriots in Week 7.” 

The Braves, wrapping up their fourth consecutive losing season, are rated from No. 21 to No. 25 this week among MLB’s 30 teams in the five sets of baseball rankings we checked. Bleacher Report has them at No. 21, ESPN at No. 22, Sports Illustrated at No. 23, USA Today at No. 24 and CBS Sports at No. 25. (MLB.com ranks only the top 20, a cut the Braves didn’t make.) Sports Illustrated made this sobering point: “More than almost any other question, the team will need to ask this: Is Dansby Swanson a good major league player?”  

As for the Hawks, who have followed the Braves into teardown/rebuild mode, NBA preseason power rankings are scarce at this point. In the most recent rankings we found, NBA.com had the Hawks No. 30, or last in the league, while CBS Sports had them No. 24. The latter offered this: “The Hawks are expected to be truly terrible, but it seems more likely that they'll just be generic bad.”

Atlanta United, which clinched a playoff berth Wednesday night, ranks solidly in the top five among the 22 MLS teams this week. The Atlanta team is ranked No. 2 by ESPN and mlssoccer.com, No. 3 by the AJC’s Doug Roberson, No. 4 by Soccer America and No. 5 by Sports Illustrated. “Atlanta United continue to dominate at home,” noted ESPN

ICYMI … 

The ongoing renovation of Philips Arena will result in a reduction of about 2,350 seats, making the Hawks’ home the smallest-capacity arena in the NBA, Chris Vivlamore reports. See story here.  

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the team will lock arms during the national anthem and will encourage fans to do the same before Sunday’s game against the Bills at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, D. Orlando Ledbetter reports. See story here.  

The Braves have submitted a bid to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at SunTrust Park. “… It’s a highly competitive situation,” Braves Chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk said. “But I think we’re looking real good.” See story here.

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