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Falcons playoff picture: Atlanta clings to the #4 seed

The state of the playoffs in the NFC through 14 weeks of the NFL season.

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

NFC Playoff Standings

  1. Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
  2. Detroi Lions (9-4)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
  5. New York Giants (9-4)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)

Dallas finally lost another game, a slopfest against the hated Giants that saw Dak Prescott play his worst game of the season. Dallas is a very good football team, but they do have an air of vulnerability over these last few weeks that wasn’t there before, and they could be one of the very few top seeds ever to have a quarterback controversy if Dak stays shaky.

Detroit has effectively come out of nowhere after a slow start to the season to take the second seed. They are a legitimately dangerous football team, with an effective passing attack and opportunistic defense that calls to mind the 2012 Falcons, and I am forced to take them seriously. There’s a good chance they hold on to the bye.

Seattle was embarrassed by the Green Bay Packers, with Russell Wilson throwing a ton of picks, and my faith in them as a top contender in the NFC has been a little bit shaken by just how shaky they’ve looked at times this year. They still need to be considered the class of the conference until they prove otherwise, but they’re gonna need to fight tooth and nail for a bye.

Atlanta is, as you know, the class of the NFC South, though only by virtue of a tiebreaker. This offense is dominant if healthy, but it was the defense that shone versus a terrible Rams offense, and we’ll have to hope that’s a spark that enables them to function well against stronger units going forward. Atlanta’s playoff seeding—nevermind a playoff berth—may depend on it.

New York won and now has a leg up on the 5th seed, meaning they’ll draw the 4th seed (which is Atlanta, at the moment). I dunno about you, but I’d much rather play the Buccaneers in the playoffs than the Giants, as sloppy and weird a team as they often are.

Tampa Bay has now won five games in a row, beating some good teams along the way. Their offense is not impressive in the slightest, but the defense has been gaining steam, which is simultaneously an argument for not letting Mike Smith choose his defensive players and for re-considering what Mike Smith might have been able to to do with better defensive player. I’m hoping the last three weeks of the season will derail them, but the Buccaneers unfortunately look pretty good.

In the Hunt

  1. Washington Redskins (7-5-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
  3. Green Bay Packers (7-6)

Washington is still in this thing, and with their offensive capabilities they’re a dangerous team that can’t be counted out just yet. They’ve stumbled and bumbled along the way and have to contend with two teams right on their heels, but I’d say they’ve got a decent chance of sneaking into the sixth seed if New York fades.

Minnesota beat the Jaguars. Sorry, that doesn’t move the needle for me.

Green Bay is suddenly one of the most dangerous teams in football, as is their custom in December. They just annihilated the Seahawks, picking Russell Wilson off five times, and the offense is starting to round into form. I don’t think there’s a team in the NFC that relishes playing them in cold weather, so let’s hope they’re out of the playoff picture over the next few weeks.