Falcons remain in first place

Believe it or not, your 4-7 Atlanta Falcons are still in first place.

Falcons fans never root for the Saints, and they definitely weren't Monday night. New Orleans lost to Baltimore 34-27 and fell to 4-7.

That's Atlanta's record, too. Since the Falcons beat the Saints in week one, that puts Atlanta in first place.

At 4-7.

In a way, maybe we should say, "Who cares? They are in first place." But it's just an amazing story that a team that has given away its last two losses (to Detroit and Cleveland) could still make the playoffs.

The Falcons have three more home games - against Arizona this Sunday, against the Steelers on December 14 and against the Panthers on December 28. They'll have two tough road games - in Green Bay on December 8 and in New Orleans on December 21.

Despite the tough loss Sunday to Cleveland, the Falcons must shake things off to prepare for a tough Arizona team this week. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to head coach Mike Smith, who took responsibility Monday for his bad clock management at the end of Sunday's game against Cleveland.

The Falcons still do not have a running game. Atlanta has the seventh-worst rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 93.1 rushing yards per game. Steven Jackson is having a horrific season. He's got 501 yards on 141 carries - a 3.6 yard per carry average.

The defense remains an embarrassment. It has allowed more yards per game (409.9) than any other team in the NFL. Sunday the defense ran out of gas, after saving the team more than once early in the game.

But the Falcons are still in first place. Did you ever imagine Atlanta's game in New Orleans next month might be for the NFC South division title? Well, it just might.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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