published Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Greeson: Falcons have spiraled to NFL's bottom five

  • photo
    New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, 31, breaks up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, 84, during the second half of an NFL football game in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The value of getting close and playing above your head and the impressions of hard-fought losses that can help generate enthusiasm and spirit in the college game are lost in translation to the NFL.

There are no style points. There are no moral victories.

There are only wins and losses, and never the twain shall meet.

With that, here's the five teams doing each -- winning and losing -- better and worse than everyone else in the NFL.

• Denver: The Denver Mannings are torching foes and enter this weekend as the biggest favorites in the modern-day history of the NFL. Heck, not even Joe Namath could guarantee a Jacksonville score Sunday against the Broncos. Denver is a 28-point favorite, and that line -- considering the Broncos are 4-1 against the spread and the Jaguars are 0-5 against the number this year -- could grow. The previous record for the largest spread was Pittsburgh as a 27-point favorite over Tampa Bay in December 1976. The Steelers won that game 42-0. The biggest pre-AFL-NFL-merger spread is believed to be Johnny Unitas and the Colts over the expansion Atlanta Falcons in 1966, a line that was similar to the 28 the Jags are catching.

• New Orleans: Drew Brees looks great, but the Saints' bounce-back has been driven by a defense that is turned on to turnovers to complete the turnaround. The Saints are plus-6 in turnover ratio and are averaging more than nine minutes more in time of possession than foes this season.

• Kansas City: This team has the feel of a 12-win bunch that, because it is in the same division as the Denver Mannings, will be relegated to a road playoff game. Still, the Chiefs do a slew of things well, even if they do very few things exceptionally well. That said, if you are an SEC football fan, this is the team for you, considering they have several familiar SEC names, highlighted by emerging stars such as safety Eric Berry (Tennessee) and receiver Dewayne Bowe (LSU).

• Seattle: No team in the league needs home-field advantage more than the Seahawks. If there is a flaw for them other than their erratic play away from Seattle, it's the need for a go-to wide receiver. Maybe Doug Baldwin can fill that hole, or maybe if Percy Harvin gets healthy, but until then the undersized Golden Tate does not generate a lot of matchup problems.

• Indianapolis: If the Colts can find a young wide receiver to package with Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson, this could be the Big Three of the next generation. It's hard not to like what Luck brings to the table. If the NFL redrafted, right now, we'd be hard-pressed not to take Andrew Luck No. 1 overall, combining the current with the long-term promise of the future.

• Atlanta: The Falcons are cooked, be it injuries, difficult schedule or a faux facade of fuzzy feelings that preceded this season. Yes, injuries can derail an NFL season at light speed because of the salary-cap structure and the challenge of creating and keeping depth. But it also hurts when a good-but-not-great QB gets cap-crippling coin. Ice, ice baby.

• Pittsburgh: Hey, the Steelers didn't lose last week, so that's encouraging. Yes, they had a bye, but sometimes saying bye is like saying hello, only in reverse. Does that make sense? No, well, neither does the Steelers being in last place in a division with the Cleveland Stinkpants.

• Tampa Bay: The state of disarray in Tampa is hard to understate considering the team is really bad and just released quarterback Josh Freeman, who was the face and the future of the franchise six weeks ago. If you are making a board, Greg Schiano leads the way as the coach most likely to get the axe, right?

• New York Giants: We all know this is a quarterback league and your quarterback is Guy No. 1 on your roster. So you could make an argument that from No. 2 to 53 on the roster, the Giants are worse than the historically wretched Jacksonville Jaguars considering the G-boys have Eli Manning and the Jag-whiners have Blaine Whoshisbritches. Jacksonville's point differential is minus-112; the Giants' is minus-100.

At the bottom minus-infinity.

• Jacksonville: Is there a more definite and clear stat than this to state the gap between Denver and Jacksonville: Denver scored 51 points in Sunday's come-from-behind win at Dallas. Jacksonville has scored 51 points through five games this season. Ouch-standing. In fact, the linesmakers in Vegas say there is a bigger difference between the Jags and the Broncos (28 points) than there would be between the Jags and the Alabama Crimson Tide (a guesstimated 17-point spread).

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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