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Matt Ryan says Falcons can stay in the playoff mix 'in December and January' despite 0-2 start

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 9/21/2021 Cody Benjamin
a baseball player wearing a helmet: ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 29: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals against the Las Vegas Raiders during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. © Provided by CBS Sports

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 29: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals against the Las Vegas Raiders during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Falcons are 0-2 to start the 2021 season, but they showed fight on Sunday in a matchup with the reigning champion Buccaneers, as quarterback Matt Ryan had Atlanta within three points of Tom Brady and Co. in the fourth quarter. Fresh off the performance, the 36-year-old Ryan is confident his team can remain in the playoff mix "late into the season, in December and January," despite the two straight losses to open the year.

Ryan spoke with CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones on Tuesday while representing TravisMathew, a California-inspired lifestyle and apparel brand that Ryan has long admired. In doing so, the former NFL MVP cast a positive light on a reassembled Falcons team.

"Seventeen games," he said when asked why he's not down after the 0-2 start. "You can throw all the old stats out. With that extra game, none of those rules apply that were there before. We've got a long way to go. We've got 15 games to go. I think we're a young team that made strides from Week 1 to Week 2. We need to continue to make strides as we go into Week 3. If we can do that, I really feel like we've got enough weapons and the right people that we can correct this thing and get it moving in the right direction."


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Ryan, who said he's "definitely adjusted" his leadership style to be "patient with some of the younger guys" on first-year head coach Arthur Smith's roster, added that he believes the Falcons can remain competitive in the NFC South until playoff time.

"I think the biggest thing is we're capable of being in the mix," he told Jones. "Keeping ourselves relevant late into the season, in December and January. I think we're capable of doing that ... It's just about getting hot at the right time."

Ryan and the Falcons will have arguably their best chance at getting in the win column to date in Week 3, when they're set to visit the similarly winless Giants for a Sunday afternoon clash.

Can the Falcons win without Julio Jones? Will Kyle Pitts live up to the hype? Download the CBS Sports app and see the latest news, insider analysis, player projections, and more. If you already have the CBS Sports app, set the Falcons as your favorite team to get news even faster.

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