The Falcons Playoff Scenarios Are Totally Bonkers
The 3-6 spots in the NFC playoffs are still very much up for grabs as we prepare for the second-to-last week of the regular season. As of today, only the Cowboys and the Seahawks have clinched their spots in the postseason, which means that every single game matters over the next two weeks.
That's great news for the viewing fans, as well as teams that are are super hot right now. The Packers were looking rough early in the season but have now won five straight games, and the Giants were 2-3 before going on a streak that has seen them win eight of their last nine.
On the flip side, it could signal bad news for teams like the Falcons, Redskins and Lions who have had bursts of greatness - particularly offensively - but also don't have a lot of wiggle room right now.
The Falcons path is particularly interesting, and it's one of the reasons that the last couple of games will be so exciting; because they could finish the season with the no. 2 seed and a first-round bye or they could miss the playoffs entirely.
Obviously there are still numerous different playoff pictures we could end up with once Week 17 is over and the dust has settled, but the Falcons still have a decent shot at securing a first-round bye and therefore a legitimate shot at the NFC Championship game.
Here's how they secure the No. 2 seed:
- Atlanta wins out (at Carolina and vs. New Orleans) to finish 11-5
- Seattle loses one of their final two games (at Arizona and vs. San Francisco) to finish 10-5-1
In this scenario, Atlanta secures the no. 2 seed even if Detroit wins out to go 11-5, via a tiebreaker based on strength of victory.
And here is the not-so-crazy scenario in which the the Falcons miss the playoffs entirely:
- Atlanta loses out to finish at 9-7
- Tampa Bay wins one of their final two games (at New Orleans and vs. Carolina) to finish 9-7 or better
- Washington wins out to finish 9-6-1
In that case, Tampa Bay wins the NFC South via a tiebreaker over Atlanta for best win percentage in division games, and the wild card spots go to Washington and the New York Giants (who cannot finish worse than 10-6.)
There's also a scenario that involves the first two above steps, but in which Washington doesn't have to win out. That scenario would require Green Bay to win out to finish 10-6 and for Detroit to win at Dallas in Week 16 to finish 10-6. In that case, Tampa Bay wins the NFC South and the wild card spots go to the New York Giants and Detroit.
References to "any given Sunday" can seem often seem trite, but when you consider just how drastically the Atlanta Falcons season can swing across the course of just two games, the old cliche really does ring true.
No matter what happens, this is going to be an incredible couple of weeks for NFL football; which is something that fans have been starved for all season. Thanks, Santa!
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