NFL Power Rankings: Falcons No. 2

Just in time for the holiday, the Atlanta Falcons aren’t being handed any presents.

Instead, they simply are getting what they deserve. They’re back up to No. 2 in the latest edition of the ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings. That comes after the Falcons spent two weeks at No. 5, which was about three spots too low for the team that now has the NFL’s best record all to itself.

You certainly can make the case the Falcons deserve to be No. 1, ahead of Denver, a team Atlanta beat early in the season. But Denver’s been on a roll and I think No. 2 is just about right for the Falcons. At No. 2, they’re getting respect, but they also aren’t getting over-hyped.

The New Orleans Saints moved up only one spot (to No. 17) with their overtime victory against Dallas. I think they might have been slighted a bit. I look at the teams in the mid-teens, including some still in playoff contention, and I think the Saints are a more dangerous team right now than most of them.

The Carolina Panthers moved up three spots to No. 20. That’s because they’re on a three-game winning streak. They had been the NFC South’s lowest-ranked team for almost the entire season, but they no longer hold that distinction.

And that’s because Tampa Bay has earned it. The Bucs fell two spots to No. 22, which may be a few spots too high for a team that has lost its last five games.