Obviously we are all excited after our big win at Atlanta, but Atlanta isn't a very good football team, so it's still hard to tell exactly where we are. It's also hard to tell where a lot of other teams are. Can Green Bay be that bad? Is New Orleans that good? What about the Cowboys? And how do we fit into the general picture?
I won't bother trying to figure out the AFC, since I didn't watch too many of the games featuring those teams. But looking at only the NFC, I have us about middle of the pack right now, in eighth or ninth position, or at the edge of the playoff picture.
On offense, I think there are still a lot of questions because the Atlanta defense isn't very good. We had way too many easy plays to make me think it was our talent, rather than incompetence on the part of our opponents, that was the reason.
At the same time, the Atlanta offense isn't as bad as we made it look. Their line has some issues, but I doubt it will look as bad the rest of the season as it did this past week. Ridley, Gage, Hurst and Pitts is a pretty good collection of skill players, and Matt Ryan is a savvy, veteran qb. Mike Davis is not a great RB, but he was absolutely okay in extended action last year for Carolina. Yet we blanked Gage and contained everyone else. Mike Davis was held way under his averages last year in both yards per carry in the run game and yards per target in the pass game.
In fact, I think the general perception of this team is somewhat skewed right now. A lot of the focus is on the offensive side of the ball, and there is certainly a lot to be excited about. But to me, the bigger story was the defense essentially pitching a shutout after the first two drives. Atlanta simply had no answers for what we threw at them, and that bodes really well for the rest of the season.
Can we beat good teams? That seems to be the most pressing question right now, and we will see pretty good teams the next few weeks in the 49ers, Buccaneers and Chiefs, which are ranked one, two and three in the latest CBS Sports rankings.
I think the 49ers will provide some answers on the offense as their defense is really good. But I am not convinced the 49ers are anything special on offense. Kittle and Samuel are obviously good, but after that, I am not sure anyone scares me on that roster.
To me, the 49ers game will give us a good chance to see how the offense can operate in a game where it might not have to do much to come out on the winning side of the ledger. A team with a good defense can often stay in games as long as they don't make any major mistakes - such as turning the ball over, taking sacks or getting in third and long situations over and over again.
The question then becomes, how good can this defense be? Can it slow down the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Cowboys? That remains to be seen, but the early returns are that it can be really good. And there is a pretty clear history of teams with really good defenses riding them to the playoffs and even championships despite those teams having pretty mediocre offenses.
The one thing I noticed about the 49ers game is that it was filled with extremely sloppy play by both teams. The Eagles certainly had their share of mistakes, but they were largely able to avoid really bad plays. If we can continue that streak, I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a lot of people erasing the 2-0 start that they had marked the 49ers down for at the start of the season.
But we also have to be prepared for our offense to look a lot worse this week than it did against the Falcons, since the level of competition will be much better.