The Atlanta Falcons were left for dead just a week ago by many, which made some sense given the relative strength of the NFC and the team's 1-4 record. A week later, everything has changed.
At 2-4, the Falcons still have climbing to do if they're going to make their way back into the playoff picture, but they're not facing Kilimanjaro or anything. Here's a look at the current playoff picture, with notes that explain why the Falcons might be able to mosey past a few of these teams.
Outside Looking In
The Falcons are currently two games behind the Lions and Bears. The Lions have been an up and down team, as always, and can be caught if they continue to play at the tick-above-average level they've been playing. The Bears were looking better this season, but their defense is lousy and Jay Cutler is gone for at least a month, which puts a serious dent in their playoff hopes.
Who else is in front of the Falcons? The Eagles (horrible defense, hit-or-miss offense in Chip Kelly's first year), the Rams (down Sam Bradford for the year, doomed), the Cardinals (the Falcons can beat them and make up ground this Sunday), and the Panthers (sitting at 3-3, the Falcons can take them out in a couple of weeks). There's many teams in front of the Falcons, but all have flaws or injuries that would make it possible for an Atlanta team playing quality, disciplined football to catch up to them. There's a lot of football left to be played, but it looks like grabbing the second wild card would be the Falcons' ticket in.
Regardless of what some will tell you, there's a real shot for the Falcons, but it is a longshot unless they can start playing quality football every single week. A couple more losses in the next few weeks will put them in a very precarious position, but a couple of wins could thrust them back into the conversation. Let's hope they can start making some noise.
Your thoughts on the playoff picture.