The Atlanta Falcons have been fighting a wave of negativity along the road to their 8-0 record. Week in, week out another analyst adds their two-cents on why their not as good as advertised, pointing to a week schedule, and lackluster scoring. Meanwhile, others see a team without weakness, and are upset at the idea that the Falcons haven't deserved each of their eight wins this year.
While pulling up short of calling the Falcons 'pretenders', Football Outsiders have released their week nine DVOA rankings, and it contains a pretty shocking statistic:
Atlanta has the lowest DVOA of any 8-0 team during the DVOA Era. In fact, even if we included both 8-0 and 7-1 teams, the 2012 Falcons come out ranked 40th out of 43 teams. (Teams that went on a bye after eight games are included in that count only once.) This doesn't mean Atlanta isn't a good team, but they certainly don't compare to juggernauts of recent years like the 2007 Patriots and 1998 Broncos.
In their rankings the Atlanta Falcons slot into ninth place in the league, below the 6-3 New York Giants, and 5-4 Seattle Seahawks. The issue is their defense and special teams, which Football Outsiders rank as 16th and 17th in the league respectively, which are is a comparatively worse defensive ranking than the Carolina Panthers (9th) and special teams ranking than the Cleveland Browns (6th).
Should the Falcons really be worried? Probably not yet, as their remaining schedule is rather pedestrian-- however, when it comes to the playoffs it might behoove them to take a look around the NFC. Their are five conference opponents who rank higher, and the Niners (who rank first in the NFL) look to be serious threats.