What actually are the Falcons’ playoff odds?

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For the first time in years, Falcons fans will have a December game with playoff implications as Atlanta travels to San Francisco in a matchup against the 49ers, which could very well decide if Arthur Smith gets into the postseason in his first season as head coach. Going into Sunday’s Week 14 slate, fivethirtyeight.com determined the Falcons had just a 5% chance to make the playoffs. But after the win over the Panthers, the Falcons more than doubled their chances to 12% thanks to a Washington Football Team loss.

The Falcons are in the playoff hunt, but they’re still on track to select in the top ten of the 2022 NFL draft; it is a strange position to be in. With just a 12% chance to make the playoffs, things aren’t likely to end with the Falcons in the postseason; however, if they can pull off the upset over San Francisco, Atlanta’s playoff chances jump to 42%.

Below is how the NFC playoff picture currently stands:

Playoff leaders

  1. Packers (10-3)
  2. Buccaneers (10-3)
  3. Cardinals (10-3)
  4. Cowboys (9-4)
  5. Rams (9-4)
  6. 49ers (7-6)
  7. Washington (6-7)

In the hunt

8. Vikings (6-7)
9. Eagles (6-7)
10. Falcons (6-7)
11. Saints (6-7)

The Falcons essentially control their own destiny and would undoubtedly be in the playoffs if they somehow won out. It is highly improbable Atlanta wins the rest of their games, but a deeper dive into the statistical models used to analyze these possibilities reveals the various scenarios, according to FiveThirtyEight.

• Beat SF, DET, BUF and NO — 99% chance
• Beat SF, DET and NO, lose to BUF — 74% chance
• Beat SF, BUF and NO, lose to DET — 70% chance
• Beat SF, DET and BUF, lose to NO — 51% chance
• Beat DET, BUF and NO, lose to SF — 27% chance
• Beat SF and NO, lose to DET and BUF — 7% chance
• Beat DET and NO, lose to SF and BUF — 1% chance
• Beat BUF and NO, lose to SF and DET — 1% chance


The Falcons win over the Panthers was massive, but this week’s game is bigger. Playoffs weren’t necessarily expected, especially after embarrassing losses to the Cowboys and Patriots. Everything is in front of this team, but their playoff chances diminish if they lose to the 49ers. At this point, the Falcons are exceeding my expectations and pre-season prediction of a 6-11 or 7-10 final record.

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