So I bet you're wondering what the weekend's games did for the Falcons' playoff chances. Fear not, I have the answer.
The answer is that they're in.
The Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers last night catapulted the Falcons into the playoffs for the second straight season, and they didn't even have to do anything to get there. They're in because the Bears and Eagles both have eight losses and are thus mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt. With nine wins, the worst the Falcons can do is go 9-7.
It's a remarkable change in the NFC playoff landscape. Just four or five weeks ago, it seemed the Falcons would have to win 11 games just to get in the door. Now they could afford to go 9-7 and still make it, due to a perfect storm of injuries and ineffectiveness from their primary contenders.
The only two two teams who can still contend for a playoff spot at this point are the Giants and Cowboys, and they're both gunning for the NFC East. The loser of next week's game between the two will have eight losses, and even if they were to tie, they couldn't keep the Falcons out.
Second thing you should know? That the Lions clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Chargers on Saturday. If the Lions finish with the same record as the Falcons, they'll still be the sixth seed by virtue of their loss to Atlanta earlier this season.
It's been an arduous season at times, and it certainly hasn't been a pretty one. The Falcons can still make a Super Bowl run and are getting hot at exactly the right time. Now that they're definitely in, they can concentrate on gunning for the Saints tonight and trying to get the best seed possible. I'm about as excited as I've been all season.