Those who dubbed the Atlanta Falcons as 'pretenders' had plenty of ammunition last week following a convincing Carolina Panthers' victory over Atlanta. However, a combination of an effective red zone offense, and Eli Manning turnovers led to a big victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. Maybe, just maybe this will be enough to finally silence critics, and turn people into believers of the twelve-win Falcons.
Matt Ryan was deadly with his efficiency, completing over 75% of his passes, and throwing for two touchdowns. This wasn't a contest where Ryan needed to throw for 350 yards (he finished with 270), but he made the most of all his receivers. Against the Giants eight different players caught passes, and four receivers had three catches or more. The balanced attack was too much for New York's secondary, and having Michael Turner run effectively really set the offense apart.
This game was Julio Jones' world, and the Giants were living in it. Finishing with six receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns, New York had no answer for him. Roddy White managed just two catches for 16-yards, and it didn't matter. There wasn't one thing detractors could key in on, and that bodes well for the playoffs.
The idea of 'Falcons as pretenders' was predicated on their close games, and lack of signature wins. A 34-point victory over the NFC East leaders satisfies that criteria. If analysts will key in on a loss to Carolina, surely a win like this will help instill some faith.