NFL power rankings, Week 13: How do 49ers and Falcons compare?

Kevin C. Cox

We break down Week 13 NFL power rankings and consider where the Falcons sit compared to the 49ers.

Normally this is a mid-week post, but all the 49ers news delayed it a bit. The Falcons have since played their Week 13 game and will stay near the top of most power rankings. However, as we head into the weekend of Week13, I continue to wonder what to make of the Falcons.

They sit at 11-1 following a 31-21 win over the New Orleans Saints, so we know they're not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination. But how good are they? Their point differential sits at +88, which puts them behind the Patriots, 49ers, Texans, Bears and Broncos. That's a pretty solid class to be associated with, but again, how good are they?

In their wins, the Falcons average margin of victory has been 8.36 points, and they have won seven games by a touchdown or less. Things seem to fall their way, but they also are finding ways to win games. As I see it, heading into the playoffs they could be one of the first teams with the best record in the league to be able to play the "nobody believes in us" card, and be perfectly reasonable in doing so.

Are the 49ers better than the Falcons? From Football Outsiders perspective, yes they are. FO released their latest DVOA rankings earlier in the week, and heading into Week 13, the 49ers continue to be ranked at the top. Considering the 49ers special teams is ranked No. 19, that says a lot about the offense and defense. Both rank No. 2 in DVOA, as they have benefited from strong performances the last two weeks.

In providing a more subjective assessment between the two teams, I do think the 49ers are better. I am not inclined to argue much about the superiority of the 49ers defense, so we'll look more at the offensive side of the ball.

Of course, even that is not a simple task with the change at quarterback for the 49ers. The Falcons passing game has some crazy weapons in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, but Matt Ryan has shown some inconsistency at times. He has generally put up huge numbers, but there are just enough holes at times to keep people questioning.

It's hard to really make a comparison at this point in the passing game because we're still waiting to figure out what Colin Kaepernick will bring to the table on a regular basis. He is extremely talented, but also extremely inexperienced. The sky is the limit, but we just don't know what it all means at this point. We are looking at different passing attacks between these two teams.

As for the rushing game, I'll take the 49ers over just about anybody in the NFL at this point. The 49ers lead the NFL averaging 5.4 yards per carry, while the Falcons are near the bottom at 3.8 yards per carry. The 49ers offensive line deserves a ton of credit, but the running backs have done a strong job. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers rebound from the loss of Kendall Hunter. Frank Gore is playing incredibly well, but he has also benefited in part from Kendall Hunter's strong play. It will be interesting to see how Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Jewel Hampton factor into the new backfield look.

What does all this mean? The 49ers offense has turned into a lot of question marks in a short amount of time. The answers could be great as the season wears on, but at this point, we just don't know what things will look like moving forward. Things look good, but it's too early to get too far ahead of ourselves. Who am I kidding, it's never too early, right? 49ers rule, Falcons drool!

SB Nation NFL

1. Houston Texans
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. San Francisco 49ers

Usually a quarterback controversy is a bad thing because it's a sign you have two quarterbacks who aren't good enough. In San Francisco, the quarterback controversy is a good thing. Jim Harbaugh has two "hot hands" he can roll with. And for Harbaugh, once you get the label of a quarterback guru, you'll never be out of work again.

CBS Sports

1. Houston Texans
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. San Francisco 49ers

With the defense scoring two touchdowns the way it did at New Orleans, does it matter who plays quarterback? It will down the road.

FOX Sports

1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Houston Texans
3. Denver Broncos
4. Atlanta Falcons

You hate to see a player lose his starting role due to injury, especially one that has been as successful as Alex Smith the past two seasons, but Colin Kaepernick gives this offense an explosive quality Smith couldn't.

ESPN

1. Houston Texans
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. San Francisco 49ers

Jim Harbaugh plans to announce his QB choice Wednesday. It will be an upset if he benches Colin Kaepernick now.

NFL.com

1. Houston Texans
2. San Francisco 49ers

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