Atlanta Falcons: Playoff hopes quickly fading after loss to Vikings


The Atlanta Falcons’ playoff hopes are fading after a tough loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

After an excellent 5-0 start, many Atlanta Falcons fans began to dream of a playoff berth for the first time since 2012. The team looked much improved on defense, and the offense was firing on all cylinders.

But then came a beat down in New Orleans by a desperate Saints team. Roll forward to the current day, and the Falcons have won only once in six tries. For a team to hit a wall so dramatically is puzzling, and the Falcons have been unable to fix any of the glaring issues on offense in recent weeks.

Atlanta won a number of close games through the undefeated start, but the tables turned rather quickly. Entering the Minnesota game, the Falcons had lost their previous three by a combined seven points. Earlier in the year, these close games were falling the right way for Atlanta.

But Sunday’s loss to the Vikings wasn’t close. Costly turnovers from Matt Ryan ruined opportunities to score, but all-in-all Mike Zimmer’s team looked a step above. The defense played well enough to win, but the Falcons’ struggles on offense are very real, and were once again exposed by a strong Vikings team.

When Adrian Peterson ran home a 35-yard field goal to make the score 20-3 with just 4:15 remaining, the game was on ice. But in all reality, it was over well before then.

So what does this mean for the Falcons’ playoff hopes?

Due to the team’s fast start out of the gates, they are still right in the hunt. It took a Seattle win over Pittsburgh to finally remove Atlanta from a wild-card spot. At 6-5, the Falcons share the same record as the Seahawks, and a couple of victories could change everything.

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But here’s the problem: Atlanta has too many issues offensively to win enough games. The unit hasn’t looked good since the blowout victory over Houston in Week 4. They survived tests from Washington and Tennessee, but have lost every other game.

The Falcons have five games remaining, and now enter a three-game road stretch. Awaiting them next week is the Buccaneers, the team that kicked off this four-game losing run for the Falcons.

To reach the playoffs, how many wins will the Falcons need? They will likely need at least nine. To hit that number, they must win three of their final five games. They play the undefeated Panthers twice.

What once looked like a comfortable stroll into the postseason now looks like an uphill struggle. For Atlanta to get there, it will take near perfection.