NFL Power Rankings: Falcons falling

For the first time since Week 4, the Atlanta Falcons don’t hold one of the top two spots in the ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings.

The latest edition is out and the Falcons have tumbled from No. 2 to No. 5 after a 30-20 loss to Carolina on Sunday. The Patriots, Broncos, Texans and 49ers occupy the top four spots and I can’t argue that the Falcons are better than those four teams after their performance at Carolina. I still think Atlanta has all sorts of talent and things could click at any time, but that really hasn’t happened yet.

Most of the rest of the NFC South also took a fall in the rankings. The Buccaneers, who had cracked the top 10 a few weeks ago, have lost three straight and they tumbled from No. 15 to No. 18. I wasn’t too concerned about the Bucs after losses to Atlanta and Denver, but Sunday’s home loss to Philadelphia showed Tampa Bay might not be as far along as many people thought.

Like the Bucs, the Saints also are on a three-game losing streak. Those losses were to good teams -- the Giants, Falcons and 49ers. But the Saints are now 5-8, which is enough to drop them out of the top 20. They fell four spots to No. 22.

Carolina looked like a very good team on Sunday. Heck, the Panthers looked like the team I thought they’d be back in the preseason. But they’ve struggled so much this season that the win against Atlanta was only enough to bump them up two spots to No. 26.