By Shawn S. Lealos

The Falcons dropped a heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Eagles and fell behind the Seattle Seahawks, who have improved to 6-2-1 on the season. However, sitting at 6-4, the Falcons are still two games up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints and remain a team to beat in the NFC, despite having a below-average defense.

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The Atlanta Falcons Defense

The reason the Atlanta Falcons have four losses is because of their defense, which ranks 30th in the NFL, with only the one-win San Francisco 49ers and winless Cleveland Browns ranking beneath them. They rank dead last against the pass, giving up 283 passing yards a game. With names like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott leading the other NFC contenders, Atlanta can’t compete with a defense playing this poorly.

Despite their inability to stop teams from moving up and down the field, the defense is not completely devoid of talent. The Falcons have 11 turnovers and 22 sacks on the season; they can wreck havoc, they just don’t do it on a consistent basis.

Matt Ryan Enjoying MVP Season

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The reason the Atlanta Falcons have six wins on the season is because of Matt Ryan. He ranks No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards and is on pace to become only the fourth NFL quarterback to break 5,000 passing yards in a season. He has also thrown 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions. In the last three Falcons losses, Ryan threw an interception, but he has thrown 17 touchdowns in the team’s six wins.

Julio Jones Possibly Falling Short of Third Straight 100-Reception Season

Julio Jones broke his foot in 2013 and many feared his career would never be the same. Instead, he had 104 receptions in 2014 and 136 in 2015. This season, Jones is on pace for only 97 receptions. That is because he has been up and down all season. He had an amazing game in Week 4 with 12 receptions for 300 yards. In the week before, he had one catch for 16 yards and the week after he had two receptions for 29 yards. Amazingly, the Falcons won all three games, proving they have other talented players who can step up.

Injuries Affecting Falcons Offense

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The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Philadelphia Eagles because they let the Eagles push them around. One of the big losses they suffered was to their starting tight end, who went down two weeks before in the Green Bay Packers game. Jacob Tamme is probably headed to the Injured Reserve list, which is a big loss for the Falcons. However, Matt Ryan will probably get back another of his offensive weapons in running back Tevin Coleman after the bye. Also in line to return is cornerback Desmond Trufant, who will automatically make the Falcons defense better.