The Falcons enter the bye week as the only undefeated team in the NFL at 6-0. The bad news? The Falcons have limped into the bye week with close wins over Carolina (1-4), Washington (3-3) and Oakland (1-4). While the Falcons should be very happy to be undefeated, they understand that the mission is far from accomplished and the team still has a lot of issues to workout if they want to make a dent in their playoff reputation.
The defense has been up and down this year as they have been doing some very good things and there are other things they aren't doing so well. Right now, the Falcons are 21st in the league in yards allowed. The big issue has been stopping the run as the Falcons are 27th in the league in rushing yards allowed and have given up at least 100 yards in every game so far. The good news is that despite giving up all of those yards, the Falcons are sixth in the league in points allowed giving up 18.8 points per game. How is that possible? Turnovers. The Falcons are first in the league in take-aways with 17 (tied with Chicago) and turnover margin of +10 (tied with New England).
The defense has to toughen up against the run as the competition will be stiffer as the season moves forward. Defensive tackle Corey Peters is now able to come off the physical unable to perform list and could be a big addition to the squad if he is healthy and ready to return after the bye week (or shortly thereafter).
Offensively, the Falcons have had good and bad games and are currently right in the middle of the league in terms of yards/game. The Falcons are 10th in passing yards but just 25th in rushing yards. In terms of points scored, the Falcons (much like on defense) are among the league leaders as they are sixth in the league. Again, this can be contributed to turnovers as the Falcons have turned it over just seven times in six games which is good. It's great when you once again consider the turnover margin differential that is in the Falcons favor. The negative stat here is that the Falcons have turned the ball over five times in the last two games versus turning it over two times in the first four games. That's a very poor trend and it's good that the bye week is now so the Falcons can get that turned around.
So far the Falcons have zero wins against teams that currently have a winning record. You can only play the teams in front of you but I don't think we know exactly how good the Falcons are just yet. It's clear that the Falcons need to do a better job stopping the run and they need to be more consistent running the ball on offense (they don't necessarily need more yardage, they just need to be able to run it better when they have to run it). It's great to be 6-0 as the Falcons are off to the best start in the history of the franchise, but there are adjustments that need to be made if the Falcons want to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders at the end of the season.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.