Just how important a Week 7 victory is for Falcons playoff hopes

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The Falcons are coming off a loss to the Commanders that they should’ve absolutely won.

The defense did enough in the second half to give Arthur Smith, Desmond Ridder, and the offense several chances to tie the game.

Whether it was operational dysfunction, decision-making, or poor execution, the Falcons’ offense came up short, despite outgaining their counterparts by more than double.

Despite fans or analysts sulking over the inexcusable loss, my mind was already on Atlanta’s Week 7 contest in Tampa Bay, marking the Falcons’ second divisional matchup, and one that is as close to a must-win as one could be this early in the season.

Opening the campaign with a win over the Panthers was a great start, but the Buccaneers present a different challenge entirely. It remained a reality at the start of 2023 and remains so today, the easiest path to a playoff berth is winning the NFC South.

Sunday presents an opportunity to greatly improve Atlanta’s postseason odds… or drastically impair those chances. The New York TimesĀ has an odds calculator, and here are some scenarios the Falcons face depending on the Week 7 outcome.

Coming into the contest, the club has a 15% chance to secure a Wild Card spot in the postseason. That number fluctuates a percent in either direction depending on a victory or loss. However, things change dramatically when considering the chances of taking the division.

Right now, the Falcons have a 25% chance of winning the NFC South. If they fall in Tampa, that figure drops to 18% but rises to 38% with a win. That’s a 20-point swing.

There’s obviously a statistical chance the Falcons make the playoffs even if they lose on Sunday, but a victory would give them the sole lead in the division.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

 

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