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Week 16 NFL Power Rankings: Falcons Rising Before Huge Monday Night Game

An NFC South showdown against the Saints will give Atlanta a good idea of where they stand before the playoffs begin.

With a dominant 41-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday, the 9-5 Atlanta Falcons are finally starting to look like the NFC contenders everyone thought they would be before the season began.

As a result, they have risen to No. 8 in SBNation's latest NFL Power Rankings:

8. Atlanta Falcons (9-5, LW: 10): Atlanta has won four of their last five and they're an overtime loss away from winning seven of their last eight. They're on the right track with a huge test coming up on Monday night against New Orleans.

And while the Falcons are in good shape to make the playoffs regardless of the outcome of their Monday night game at New Orleans, a win on a huge national stage would send a strong message to the rest of the NFC.

It would also be revenge for the Saints' devastating 26-23 OT victory in Atlanta in Week 10, a game which will be long remembered for Mike Smith's controversial fourth-and-1 call.

For more in-depth analysis on the Atlanta's season, The Falcoholic is a must.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.