The Falcons are trending in the right direction, consistently remaining competitive in games this year despite being severely outmatched personnel-wise. Atlanta hasn’t been favored in a single game this season but has come out the other side at 3-3 with wins over the 49ers, Seahawks, and Browns as underdogs. And their schedule looks extremely favorable for their playoff aspirations.
According to Tankathon’s remaining strength of schedule, the Falcons have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, with their opponents boasting a combined .369 record. Obviously, a big part of that is the NFC South being one of the worst divisions in football. The Panthers are a complete dumpster fire after firing Matt Rhule. At the same time, the Saints and Buccaneers are severely underperforming preseason expectations.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Falcons have a 35% chance of making the postseason and an 18% chance of winning the division. When the Falcons sat at 2-2 a couple of weeks ago, their odds were slightly lower at a 30% chance of making the playoffs. With games against some of the worst teams in football coming up, Atlanta will need to beat down these teams. The Bears, Commanders, Panthers, Steelers, Saints, and Cardinals are all easily winnable games. If Atlanta wins those matchups, they’ll sit around 8-10 wins, which is certainly enough for a Wild Card spot.
Regardless, the Falcons have a challenging road ahead — considering the talent level they’ve consistently outplayed — if they want to play meaningful games in January. Atlanta wasn’t expected to compete; after all, they have the least amount of cap dollars allocated to active rostered players. This is still a rebuilding team. But Arthur Smith has this team believing in one another, playing for something bigger than themselves. He should certainly be in the conversation for Coach of the Year with the way the Falcons have outperformed expectations.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire