[caption id="attachment_18502" align="aligncenter" width="496"] Wesley Hitt / Getty Images[/caption] In a week of utter madness across the NFL with the media spotlight firmly on the replacement officials, the performance of the Atlanta Falcons seems to have flown under the radar. Yet here they sit, a perfect 3-0 after three weeks, coming off a dominant 27-3 victory at the home to the previously undefeated San Diego. It was their best performance of the season, backing up their strong showings in weeks 1 and 2 where they posted 40-24 and 27-21 victories over the Chiefs and Broncos respectively. With the preseason favourites Packers and 49ers both slipping up and most people still dubious on the Cardinals' chances, the Falcons can be viewed as the best team in the NFC. The major reason for this early season form is undoubtedly the play of quarterback Matt Ryan. “Matty Ice” has this offence ticking along nicely; his impressive command of the no huddle offence is wearing defences out and his numbers are the best in the NFL. So far this season he has amassed 794 passing yards, eight touchdowns and just the one interception. He is also completing his passes at a remarkable 72% with his passer rating a league-high 114. This is a confident Ryan, threading passes with unnerving accuracy and an assuredness that has earned him his nickname. He has looked in complete control of a dangerous offence that seems to have weapons everywhere you look. He has two genuine stud receivers in Roddy White and Julio jones in what is surely the best wide receiving duo in football. If you put double coverage on one of them then you can be assured the other will get you. When you add in veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, slot receiver Harry Douglas and dependable running back Michael Turner, it is no surprise the Falcons are having no trouble putting up the points this season. Stats could suggest Turner may well be dropping off production wise, although his 80 yards on 14 carries against the Chargers shows he still packs a punch. But as the Falcons continue this shift to this primarily aerial offence based around Ryan, it is clearly not slowing them down one iota. A lot has been written about Ryan and the debate continues to rage as to whether he can be considered among the top quarterbacks in the league. His detractors point to his 0-3 career record in playoffs, but to be fair all three of those losses have come against eventual Super Bowl teams of that year - Arizona, Green Bay and then last season, New York. Entering his fifth season, he has plenty of time to turn that record around and the way he is playing so far this season he looks set to do just that. The other big improvement in the 2012 version of the Falcons is their defence. When star cornerback Brent Grimes went down in week 1 with a season-ending injury, things looked bad, but in Asante Samuel they have a more than capable replacement and together with Dunta Robinson they are doing a great job playing aggressive shutdown defence. Add in the outstanding safety pairing of William Moore and Thomas DeCoud and you can see why opposition quarterbacks have found throwing into this secondary a veritable nightmare. The deceptive schemes drawn up by new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan have completely bewildered Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers the past two weeks and much of the credit for this defensive unit's sudden emergence must go to him. The pressure the likes of Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas have put on opposing quarterbacks may not have resulted in as many sacks as some defences, but it has served to force errant throws and they have now forced a league-high 11 turnovers in the first three games. With Matt Ryan stepping it up in a major way and the defence improving markedly on last season, they are now dangerous on both sides of the ball. This makes them legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They have already opened up a two-game lead atop the NFC South and with the Panthers, Redskins and Raiders their opponents in the next three weeks, there is a very real possibility they can be 6-0 going into the bye. With such a solid foundation it is hard to see them not having a high seeding in the playoffs. If the Falcons can make the most of their soft draw and claim a home field advantage in the playoffs, this side can go the distance. As it stands at this point in time, the Falcons are the team to beat in the NFC.