4 NFC teams still ahead of Atlanta Falcons and 3 they have passed

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages
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1. San Francisco 49ers

What is the argument any team has passed the defending NFC champs this offseason? They have arguably the best collection of weapons in the league and the deepest roster in the NFC. Since moving off Jimmy G. they have opened up more cap space to spend on their roster and continue to save at the quarterback position.

Defying the odds of needing a great quarterback to contend they have proven to have an elite system. Whether it is Jimmy G. or Brock Purdy hasn't mattered the 49ers are going to be a force come playoff time. Adding Christian McCaffrey has only magnified this and places the franchise firmly as the conference favorite.

Atlanta isn't in the same conversations as the 49ers despite a strong offseason. Any rational predictions have the 49ers and the next team on our list returning to the NFC title game. If the Falcons were going to draft Penix Jr. this is the model they should have followed. Add the cheap quarterback and load up your roster around him. It is part of why the half measures of adding both Penix and Cousins remain a frustration.

Atlanta could pass them if...

For the sake of argument, we will look at what has to happen for each team to be passed by the Falcons or to pull ahead of the franchise.

In this case, there isn't a probable outcome that helps Atlanta. The Falcons' only chance of beating this team is major regression from Brock Purdy and multiple key injuries for the 49ers. That is how the Falcons beat the 49ers two seasons ago with Mariota at the helm. It remains the only possible path to surpassing them.