January 10, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) intercepts a pass intended for Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) during the first half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s as tough an end to the season as the Falcons could have asked for. Playing four division rivals in the space of five weeks is huge and Atlanta must win a high percentage of these games to have any shout of a playoff berth.
Winning games in the first three months of the season is important, of course. Not only do you need to tally up victories, potential tie-breaking wins can take place early on.
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But there’s no question that December is when the season truly begins. If you remain in contention by the time the calendar’s headline act begins, it’s important to get the job done in the final month.
The 2014 Carolina Panthers highlight this perfectly. After a November 30 loss at the Minnesota Vikings, the Panthers slumped to a 3-8-1 record.
A 100 percent December put them at 7-8-1, and two weeks later they were in Seattle for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
In 2013 the Panthers entered December at 8-3 and a game back on the Saints, with four of their final five games were against division rivals. They posted three victories in the division and added another against the New York Jets to finish 12-4 and top of the NFC South.
The Atlanta Falcons have hopes of the playoffs this season. We can speculate on whether they will reach the postseason or not, but there is one statement that is completely true.
December will define their season.