For a second straight year the Atlanta Falcons had the playoffs within their reach and, in all likelihood, they fumbled that chance for a second straight year.
With losses to the Buccaneers and Panthers over the past three weeks, the Falcons will need a lot of help if they want to make the postseason. Here are the teams that need to win or lose for the Falcons to end their postseason drought.
The Atlanta Falcons guide to playoffs over final two weeks
It is crazy to think that we only have two more weeks in the NFL season. It felt like yesterday when we were all ecstatic to see the Atlanta Falcons host the Carolina Panthers in week one.
We have been on a rollercoaster the entire year that has involved a couple of quarterback benches, slight winning streaks and losing streaks, and plenty of moments where we were robbed of hope.
But, there is still that chance that the Atlanta Falcons can make the playoffs, and even win their division. The bad news is that it will require some hot teams to be upset.
The road to an NFC South title
The path is simple for the Atlanta Falcons to make the playoffs. The Falcons have to beat the Bears and Saints on the road and the Buccaneers have to lose to the Saints and Panthers.
That would launch the Falcons to a 9-7 record while the Buccaneers and Saints would be 8-9.
It is a tall task considering how hot the Buccaneers are but you never know what can happen in divisional games. Certainly, the Saints will fight as hard as possible considering they are still in the hunt while the Panthers will be fighting for pride and they aren't fighting for draft position since they don't own a first-round pick.
The road to a wildcard spot
This is where it becomes confusing. There are a lot of scenarios that can happen over the final two weeks considering how crowded the last two seeds are.
Obviously, for the Falcons, everything starts with winning their final two games against the Bears and Saints. The Saints game is the one that will essentially eliminate them when you look at the projections.
If the Buccaneers beat the Saints on Sunday then the Falcons have a legit shot at the wildcard, but if the Saints win then the Falcons have a shot at the division. Either way, the Falcons still have a chance in the final week.
Right now, two NFC West teams occupy the sixth and seventh seeds—the Rams and Seahawks. The Packers, Vikings, and Saints are also in the hunt for a wildcard spot. Each time one of those teams loses, the Falcons' hopes at the wildcard rise.
Here are the games that have a big impact on the Falcons:
- Falcons @ Bears
- Rams @ Giants
- Steelers @ Seahawks
- Saints @ Buccaneers
- Packers @ Vikings
- Falcons @ Saints
- Seahawks @ Cardinals
- Rams @ 49ers
- Bears @ Packers
- Vikings @ Lions
- Buccaneers @ Panthers (Divisional hopes)
There is so much that could go this way or that way in the final two weeks. It really is too much to go over. This is a strange year when you look at how many teams are still 'in the hunt.'
As we sit right now, the Falcons are likely in a division-or-bust situation right now. There is too much that would have to go right to get a wildcard seed.
The Falcons have to beat the Bears and Saints and hope that the Saints and Panthers can beat the Bucs—that is the easiest and clearest way to the playoffs.
No matter how you look at it, the Falcons have a steep hill to climb. Beating the Bears and Saints seems like a tall task but hoping the hot Bucs lose to the two other divisional rivals makes things look grim. In the end, the only people the Falcons can blame are themselves. They had everything right there for the taking.
If they could have stopped Baker Mayfield one more time or if Drake London had been a few yards further up the field and they could've beat the one-win Panthers, then they would be in a great spot right now. Unfortunately, that did not happen and it will likely cost them another season.