The Bengals may have throttled the Falcons, but the Dirty Birds are still in the NFL playoff picture because the NFC is an absolute dumpster fire. There is no team on the level of the Bills or Chiefs; someone could argue the Eagles are in that same conversation, but outside of Philly, the NFC has little to offer. I mean, the Seahawks lead the NFC West with Geno Smith at the helm. The Vikings are a talented roster, but Kirk Cousins isn’t to be trusted in the postseason. The Buccaneers just lost to the Ravens, and the Falcons have a shot of sneaking into the playoffs as they currently sit in first place of the division.
Current NFC playoff standings
- 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)
Even more exciting, Atlanta has an extremely favorable stretch of games coming up to get above .500 for the first time since 2017. 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. Over the next six games, the Falcons will draw the lowly Panthers twice, the Robert Quinn-less Bears, the dumpster fire Commanders, and the feisty Steelers. Atlanta should be able to come out of this stretch with four wins at least.
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. Prior to the Week 7 matchup against the Bengals, those odds were 35% and 18%, respectively. 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 winnable games. If Atlanta wins those matchups, they’ll sit around 8-10 wins, which is certainly enough for a Wild Card spot in today’s NFC and possibly even for the division.
If they want to play meaningful games in January, they’ll have to punch above their weight class at some point, though. 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 the Falcons believing in one another.
Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire