Are the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons legitimate NFL playoff contenders?

The Atlanta Falcons have gotten off to a quick 2-0 start this season with wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. They won those two games by a combined six points and it is time to figure out whether or not the Falcons are legitimate playoff contenders in the NFC moving forward.

Dan Quinn is in his first year as the Falcons’ head coach and has already made a huge difference since taking over the job. He has taught toughness to the team on both sides of the football and the defense especially has been impressive. They have gone from one of the worst in the NFL last year to being a legitimate playmaking defense that is more than capable of shutting down opposing offenses.

That being said, there are quite a few reasons why they are not a legitimate contender moving forward this year.

Offensively, Matt Ryan has done an excellent job of leading the way and making the offense dangerous. Atlanta has done a great job of putting talent around him and that will especially be the case when rookie running back Tevin Coleman returns from his broken rib. He made an impact during the first two weeks of the season and will continue doing so moving forward.

Julio Jones is the first name that comes to mind for most when the Falcons come up. He is one of the best playmakers in the NFL and is in the debate for the ranking of best NFL wide receivers as well. Atlanta has done an amazing job of getting Jones the football where he needs it to dominate opposing defenses each and every week.

Why are the Falcons pretenders rather than contenders in the NFC this year after their quick start?

First of all, the two teams that they defeated were not good football teams and they didn’t beat them by much. That is a major concern for the Falcons and they have to figure out how to play better football than they have over the first two games.

Secondly, the Falcons’ defense is playing much higher than they are capable of playing for the rest of the season. Quinn has definitely helped improve them a bit, but they are far from being a lockdown defensive team. As the season continues forward, their defense is going to revert back to the skill level that they are truly at and will stop playing the dominant brand of defense that they have been.

Those two reasons are the main reasons why this team is a pretender rather than a contender. Russell Baxter of Bleacher Report agrees that they will not keep up the winning ways that they have started the season with.

All of that being said, it will be interesting to see how the Falcons play this week on the road against a Dallas Cowboys team that has to play without both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. They should come away with a 3-0 record, but that isn’t something to brag about with the lack of competition that they have played. Quinn has to be happy with the start to the year, but he also has to know that the Falcons are playing above their talent right now.

About Evan Massey

Evan Massey is a sportswriter that has been in the industry for the past six years. He has seen his work featured on Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN and Bleacher Report. Known for his work ethic and ability to cover any league and team, Evan is always willing to talk sports with fans and debate any topic. Follow him on Twitter at @Massey_Evan, or email him: