Following Thursday Night Football, the Falcons sit atop the NFC South, with the Ravens taking down the Buccaneers. Sitting one game under .500 through seven weeks, nobody would’ve expected Atlanta to be in a position to win the division. But here we are. The Dirty Birds are squarely in the NFL playoff picture because their division and conference are an absolute mess.
Current NFC playoff picture
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-1)
- Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
- Atlanta Falcons (3-4)
- New York Giants (6-1)
- Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
The Falcons are betting favorites this Sunday against the Panthers, but even more exciting, Atlanta has an extremely favorable stretch of games coming up to get above .500 for the first time since 2017. There is a real possibility that the team’s season finale against the Bucs decides the division.
According to Tankathon’s remaining strength of schedule, the Falcons have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, with their opponents boasting a combined .403 record. But the Bucs aren’t too far behind in that breath. Over the next six weeks, the Falcons will have winnable games against the Panthers twice, the Bears, the Commanders, and the Steelers.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Falcons have a 39% chance of making the postseason and a 33% chance of winning the division following Tampa Bay’s loss on Thursday Night Football. Those are the highest probabilities the team has seen all season. Before the Week 7 matchup against the Bengals, those odds were 35% and 18%, respectively.
There’s a real chance the Falcons make the postseason, which will mark the first time the team has played meaningful games in January since 2017. If they win the division, they’ll host a playoff game for the first time since 2016. For a rebuilding team with one of the least talented rosters in the league, that would be quite an accomplishment.
However, I’ve seen some people on social media claim it would be a bad thing, suggesting sneaking into the playoffs by winning the worst division in football and getting bounced in the first round isn’t worth selecting so late in the draft. That is an incredibly low-brow thing to say if you ask me.
Winning football games will always be the team’s No. 1 priority. Building a sustainable winning culture doesn’t happen by accident. Do you ever wonder why the same teams usually pick in the first ten selections in each draft? It’s because they’re losers. Plus, the draft is a crapshoot anyways.
The Falcons have been in this situation for years now, and if the team could host a playoff game… it would change the climate in Atlanta. People will be excited to go watch the Falcons; the atmosphere will improve. Free agents will see Atlanta as a potential destination, whereas a couple of seasons ago, it was an afterthought. Getting into the playoffs should never be seen as a bad thing; stop being a loser.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire