The Falcons lost a game on Sunday that they had every opportunity to win. Multiple mistakes from the offense left points on the board and created opportunities for the Bucs. The defense played stellar at times but faltered on the final drive when they were needed most, and Younghoe Koo uncharacteristically missed not one but two field goals, as the Falcons lost 29-25.
With a win, Atlanta would have had a commanding lead in the NFC South, sitting at 7-6 with a 4-0 record in the division. However, the loss drops them to second place, losing the tiebreaker to the Buccaneers. It’s a crummy feeling for everyone hoping the Falcons might finally break their postseason drought, but the season is far from over. Atlanta has four winnable games remaining and can easily sneak their way into the playoffs as the NFC South champion or Wild Card.
By far the easiest route for Atlanta is winning the division. The NFC South is one of the worst divisions, not just this year but in NFL history. There’s not a single team over .500 and it includes the team with the worst record in football, the Carolina Panthers at 1-12.
The Falcons have two more opportunities against NFC South opponents this season. This upcoming Sunday, they head to Carolina to take on those 1-12 Panthers. It may seem like an easy win on paper, but it’s anything but. The Falcons aren’t talented enough to overlook anybody and are dealing with a plethora of injuries. Atlanta then has to go on the road to face the Saints during the final week of the season, a place that has haunted them for years.
But if the Falcons can somehow pull out a victory in those two games, that alone could put them in a position to win the NFC South, depending on how it shakes out. 8 wins could very easily be the magic number and a 5-1 record in the division might give them the deciding tiebreaker.
The Wild Card is less likely but remains a possibility. The Falcons are currently involved in a five-way tie with the Saints, Packers, Seahawks, and Rams for the final seed in the NFC, with Atlanta on the outside looking in because of tiebreakers. I don’t see any of those five teams running the table the rest of the way, and it’s possible none of them go better than 2-2. However, because they are already behind in the tiebreaker, it’s most likely going to take at least three wins the rest of the way to snag a Wild Card spot.
That’s the magic number overall. There’s an outside chance the Falcons go 2-2 over their final four games and make the playoffs, especially in the NFC South, where .500 would currently be leading the division. But three wins should definitely get the job done, and that has to be the goal in Atlanta over the final four weeks.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire