If I told you before the season that, between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, one team would be 1-3 after four games and the other 3-1, it wouldn’t be hard to predict that Atlanta would be 1-3. After today’s 48-33 offensive showcase, the Falcons have exceeded expectations in a 3-1 start, keeping them at the top spot in the NFC South while knocking the defending NFC champions off for their third loss of the year.
Most expected Atlanta to be at the bottom of the division again, but Julio Jones and Matt Ryan and proving that they’re both still elite at what they do. Jones had an unfathomable 300 receiving yards on 12 receptions including a touchdown, while Ryan threw for 503 yards and four touchdowns on 28 completions. Ryan’s plus 500-yard and Jones’ 300-yard games were the first time in history that a quarterback and receiver put up these numbers in a single game, and this record is a telling sign of what could be an interesting year in Atlanta.
Ryan has already thrown for just shy of 1,000 yards, and Jones has 488 yards. This connection seems to just get better with each passing week, and now that Jones has finally gotten into the end zone, expect the floodgates to open and for him to score a few time per game. Now, with New Orleans, Carolina, and Tampa Bay left in the dust, the Falcons can really start to put some distance between those teams and themselves. It won’t be easy, however, as they play Denver, Green Bay, Seattle, and Philadelphia all within the next six weeks, but the Falcons don’t seem to care.
No one expects them to win many of those games, but no one expected them to be 3-1 and leading the NFC South at this point. Like it or not, the Falcons are contenders, and the combination of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones can take this team as far as they want to go this season.