After the Falcons were embarrassed by the Panthers two weekends ago at home, it was hard to think about Atlanta making a push for the playoffs. Sitting at .500 before the Carolina game, the Falcons were still searching for their first divisional win. And after falling to Matt Rhule’s squad, Arthur Smith’s team sat at 0-2 in the division and 3-4 overall.
However, the Falcons came out and surprised their fan base, the Saints and their fans, and the entire NFL community as they knocked off New Orleans to get their first division win and back to .500 nearly halfway through the season. Thanks to the new formatting, there are seven playoff spots. The Falcons leap-frogged a few teams — the Panthers losing to the Patriots and the Vikings losing to the Ravens — and now sit as the seventh and last team in the playoffs if the postseason began today.
At the midway point of the NFL season, here would be the current Wild-Card Weeknd matchups:
🏈Patriots at Ravens
🏈Steelers at Chargers
🏈Raiders at Bills
🏈Falcons at Packers
🏈Saints at Bucs
🏈Rams at Cowboys
No. 1 seeds on bye: Cardinals, Titans.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 8, 2021
The Falcons would travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers in a Wild Card game. Atlanta and Green Bay have met a few times in the Wild Card round, but both would be under new leadership. Arthur Smith has won four of his last six games; granted, they were against lesser competition. The difference this season has been the Falcons performance in close games. All four have been one-score games instead of losing those close games a year ago.
So can the Falcons keep it up and make a push for the playoffs? Well, their schedule won’t do them any favors.
Remaining schedule: at DAL, vs. NE, at JAX, vs. TB, at CAR, at SF, vs. DET, at BUF, vs. NO
The Falcons will have to rattle off a few wins against some impressive teams but as this season progresses, so has Arthur Smith’s squad. If the Falcons can continue to stack wins, the playoffs in the first year of this regime will become a reality. As it stands today, here is the NFC playoff picture.
1. NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
2. NFC North: Green Bay Packers (7-2)
3. NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)
4. NFC East: Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
5. Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
6. New Orleans Saints (5-3)
7. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
8. Carolina Panthers (4-5)
9. Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
10. Seattle Seahawks (3-5)
11. San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
12. Chicago Bears (3-5)
13. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6)
14. New York Giants (3-6)