Falcons RB Matt Ryan’s return will make them the NFL’s best team again

The Falcons are expected to go for another Super Bowl this season.

That’s the hope after quarterback Matt Ryan was forced to sit out the last two games due to a sprained left ankle.

The Falcons will also be the NFC’s No. 1 team again, a distinction they hold by virtue of a 9-6 record this season, despite playing in the NFC South and AFC East.

Here’s a look at the NFL and the NFC East’s teams that will be in a position to claim it again.


Dallas Cowboys (12-4) This season, Dallas is expected to finish as the NFL-best team after winning seven games and going 5-0.

The Cowboys have won their last two in consecutive weeks, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 38-21 in Week 11 and the Chicago Bears 30-24 in Week 15.

This is their second consecutive win and second straight against a division rival.


Pittsburgh Steelers (12:29 p.m.

ET, ESPN) The Steelers are expected as the NFC West’s No, 2 team.

The Steelers have won eight of their last 10 games against the NFC North and seven of their past nine against division opponents.


Detroit Lions (12 p.l.

ET) The Lions are the only team in the NFL to go 7-0 in their past 10 games and hold the tiebreaker over all other playoff teams.

They are expected again to win their second straight game, defeating Green Bay by a score of 35-17 in Week 14.


Buffalo Bills (12 a.m., ESPN) Despite having just seven points, the Bills have been one of the league’s best teams in recent weeks, holding the NFC Western Division lead for the second consecutive week.

The Bills are coming off a win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 8 and have the league lead in total offense (405.3 yards per game) and total defense (118.5).


New Orleans Saints (11 a.t., ESPN, ESPN2) The Saints have won five of their six games since the start of the season.

They’ve won six of the past seven at home, with wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals.


Dallas Texans (11:30 a.l., ESPN2, ESPNU) The Texans are expected at least to hold a lead in the division race after beating the Green Bay Packers 36-23 in Week 10.

The Texans have also won six straight games at home and are averaging 49.5 points a game.


Chicago Bears (11 p.n.

ET), New York Jets (11.30 p.t.

ET): The Jets are the top-ranked team in both the NFC and NFC East after defeating the Carolina Panthers 37-10 on Sunday.


New England Patriots (11-3) The Patriots have won six consecutive games at Gillette Stadium, which they won in 2007.

The Patriots are a league-best 11-1 in the playoffs.


Carolina Panthers (11/28/14), Detroit Lions