ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons are tied for the best record in the NFL. They have a comfortable lead in their division. They've already clinched another winning season.
Nothing much to complain about, right?
For a team that has built such a lofty mark, the NFC-leading Falcons (9-1) had plenty of high-profile issues to deal with Monday coming off an ugly win over Arizona. Like a feeble running game, a defense that keeps giving up big running plays, injuries to Asante Samuel and Julio Jones, plus a four-game suspension for backup center Joe Hawley.
The NFL announced the penalty after Hawley tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, yet another distraction for a team that must address its trouble spots to avoid a repeat of the one-and-done playoff troubles of recent years.