Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons’ 30-17 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
What it means: The Falcons remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team (7-0) and sit high atop the NFC South standings. But this was the most significant game the Falcons have played this season. Instead of playing just well enough to win, like they did the past three games, the Falcons dominated on the road on a day when the weather conditions were less than ideal. A lot of people -- myself included -- have been saying that the Falcons, despite their record, haven’t been playing like the best team in the NFL. I saw plenty of positives from the Falcons in their first six games and felt it was only a matter of time before they clicked and put together a complete game. That finally happened, and now it might not be such a stretch to call the Falcons the best team in the NFL.
Back in the MVP race: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan seemed to be the clear front-runner for MVP in the first few weeks of the season, but had slumped and fallen a bit in the conversation in recent weeks. But this was a big bounce-back game for Ryan, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia. He was nearly flawless and put the Falcons in control by throwing touchdowns on each of the first three possessions.
Cause for concern: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon got carted off the field with an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter. The extent of the injury wasn’t known immediately. But if Weatherspoon is going to miss any time, this will be significant. He’s been Atlanta’s best linebacker and perhaps the best defensive player on the team.
Changing of the guard? Michael Turner has been the starting running back for the Falcons since his arrival in 2008, and I don’t anticipate that changing this season. But I do anticipate we’re going to keep seeing more of second-year pro Jacquizz Rodgers as a complement to Turner. Rodgers brings an element of speed that Turner never really had and is versatile enough to also help as a pass receiver. Turner still got the bulk of the carries (23) against the Eagles, but finished with only 58 rushing yards. The Falcons continue to gradually give Rodgers, who had 60 yards on eight carries and caught five passes for 20 yards, more touches because he’s more dynamic. I’m pretty sure that trend will continue as the season goes on.
What’s next: The Falcons host Dallas next Sunday night.