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Nover: Falcons to Pull Off a Rare Feat?

No NFL team has started 5-0 and finished below .500 since the leagues merged in 1970. That string could be broken by the 6-7 Atlanta Falcons.

Since averaging 29.8 points during their first five games - all victories - the Falcons have averaged a puny 14.6 points during their last eight games going 1-7. The Falcons have been burying bettors since the second Sunday of October going 0-9 against the spread. Atlanta is plus three at Jacksonville Sunday.

The Falcons are not the worst team in the NFL given their skill position talent. They just play like the worst team. Atlanta can't be trusted to even give a full effort having quit after falling behind 21-0 to Carolina in last Sunday's 38-0 road loss.

Lack of Sacks and Poor Ryan Performance

What has been the problem? The defense is last in sacks with 15. Statistically, though, the Falcons rank in the middle in yards given up and points allowed.

Matt Ryan is having his worst season since 2009. He entered this year with a career touchdown-to-interception ratio per season of 26-to-13. This year he has 17 touchdown passes and 18 turnovers. During his last four games, Ryan has barely averaged 200 yards passing with five touchdown throws and nine turnovers. His passer rating for these games is 73.7. By comparison, Colin Kaepernick finished his season with a 78.5 rating.

Julio Jones may be the most talented wide receiver in football. Certainly he's in the top-five argument. He has two touchdowns in his last 10 games, almost a forgotten figure when the Falcons reach the red zone.

shanahan brought in as falcons new oc

Not only did the Falcons bring in a new head coach, Dan Quinn, but also a new offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. The Ryan/Shanahan marriage should have worked. Ryan is a pro and until this season had been an upper level quarterback.

Shanahan is well respected having coached up Matt Schaub in Houston when he was there in 2009. Schaub finished with his career-high in touchdowns, yards, completion percentage and efficiency rating that season.

But Ryan and Shanahan haven't been able to adjust to each other leaving the Falcons devoid of confidence and a team incapable of backing at the betting window.

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