Power Rankings: No. 30 Atlanta Falcons

A weekly examination of the Falcons' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 4 | Last week: No. 30 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Falcons retained their No. 30 spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings after a hard-fought 17-13 loss to the No. 2 ranked New Orleans Saints.

Some Falcons fans would like to see their team dip to the bottom of the NFL standings in order to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Coach Mike Smith assured the team is not concerned about draft status at this time. But the thought of possibly adding South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to an almost nonexistent pass rush is too enticing not to be thinking about.

The next five games should give Smith and the staff a better chance to evaluate young players. One of the goals, however, has to be making sure Matt Ryan doesn’t suffer a major injury, considering how much Ryan has been hit this season.

The Falcons also have to take a hard look at veterans such as Asante Samuel, Osi Umenyiora, and Steven Jackson to see if they are capable of helping the team moving forward or if it’s time for a youth movement.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Falcons remained near the bottom of the ESPN.com Power Rankings for the duration of the season. This Sunday’s road trip to Toronto to face Buffalo won’t be easy, and they likely have little chance in road trips to Green Bay and San Francisco.

At least the Falcons have a shot to knock off Washington at home (Dec. 15), based on the pathetic showing the Redskins had against the 49ers on Monday night.