Falcons playoff hopes still alive amid the worst division in football

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The NFC South is the worst division in football; there isn’t a single team above .500 — Buccaneers lead at (5-6), followed by the Falcons (5-7), Panthers (4-8), and Saints (4-8). The Falcons may have lost a heartbreaker against the Commanders, but they are still just 0.5 games back of first place. Ironically, Atlanta is simultaneously 1.0 games out of last place. Hence, the worst division in football.

There’s no realistic path to the playoffs for any team within the NFC South outside of winning the division. The Seahawks and Commanders moved to 7-4 and 7-5, respectively. Gaining two games with only five games left to play is a lot of ground to make up. The Wild Card is quickly slipping out of reach for any of these NFC South teams, but the division race is still very tight and up for grabs.

The Buccaneers fell to the Browns in overtime, but what’s even worse for Tom Brady‘s team is the loss of starting tackle Tristan Wirfs. Sitting one game under .500, the Bucs control their own destiny and are the betting favorites to win the South, but as the season progresses, the more apparent it becomes they’re not contenders, no matter who is under center.

The Falcons fell to the Commanders on a goal line interception. Marcus Mariota had another uninspiring effort, but Atlanta had a chance to take the lead with under a minute to play. Arthur Smith’s offense was moving the ball seemingly at will on the ground, but the first-time head coach decided to throw it on the five-yard line instead of handing it off. And consequently, Mariota’s pass was tipped at the line of the scrimmage and intercepted in the endzone. Even following the turnover, the Falcons had a chance to win after forcing a Washington three-and-out, but a roughing the punter penalty effectively ended the game, keeping the Falcons two games below .500. With the Steelers on the docket, Atlanta should be able to get back on track.

The Panthers have played inspiring football since firing Matt Rhule, and Carolina may have just sealed Nathanial Hackett’s firing. The lowly Panthers dominated the Broncos to the tune of 23-10 behind a lackluster performance from Sam Darnold and are now┬ájust 1.0 game behind the Falcons.

Last and certainly least, the Saints are one of the more disappointing teams in football. They were dominated by the 49ers and are clearly one of the worst teams in the league. Falcons fans might not have much, but at least we have this — the Saints suck. New Orleans is embroiled in a salary cap mess with no quarterback, an unproven head coach, and no sense of direction. It’s been a long time since times have been this dark in the Big Easy. Still, they’re in the same position as the Panthers, one game back of the Falcons. They’ll face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, and Falcons fans should be rooting for their archnemesis in hopes of closing the gap on the division leaders.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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