If ESPN is only one thing, the company is consistent in how they rank the Atlanta Falcons.
For the third time since the NFL draft, ESPN has rated the Falcons in the bottom third of the league. On August 21, Atlanta earned its lowest ranking yet from ESPN.
“The Worldwide Leader in Sports” placed Atlanta at No. 28 in its latest power rankings. ESPN’s Falcons insider Michael Rothstein also claimed that entering the season, quarterback Desmond Ridder is on the hot seat.
“Ridder is entering his first full season as a starting NFL quarterback, and the Falcons have invested a lot around him, from three top-10 picks in receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and offensive option Bijan Robinson to signing right guard Chris Lindstrom to the biggest contract for a guard in NFL history,” Rothstein wrote. “If Ridder plays well, Atlanta might have one of the most intriguing offenses in the NFL. If he doesn’t, the Falcons will have questions at quarterback for another 12 months.”
ESPN ranked Atlanta at No. 26 in its post-draft rankings. So, despite an offseason where Atlanta’s top rookies, playmakers, and Ridder, by the way, have looked good, the Falcons have somehow fallen in the power rankings.
ESPN also rated the Falcons at No. 24 on its future NFL power rankings in July.
“The Worldwide Leader in Sports” is hardly the only publication overlooking the Falcons. Atlanta will be one of just four teams without a primetime game on the schedule heading into the season. So, it’s pretty clear the NFL at large doesn’t think much of the Falcons.
Even still, it’s difficult not to view Atlanta’s latest ranking as disrespectful. The only teams the Falcons are ahead of in ESPN’s newest rankings are the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals. All four teams have an argument to be considered the league’s worst team heading into the season.
Atlanta doesn’t belong in that conversation.
Ridder is also a curious choice for the Atlanta hot seat. While there’s certainly pressure on Ridder to perform, head coach Arthur Smith is likely to have a significantly warmer seat if Atlanta finishes as one of the five worst teams in the NFL this season.