There were conflicting reports after the Falcons’ triumph over the Carolina Panthers, but with the Tampa Bay loss and a weird tiebreaker with the Lions decided, we can say it definitively: The Atlanta Falcons are in the postseason and have the division.
We are in the Playoffs!— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) December 25, 2016
The NFL has confirmed, with the @RAIDERS win, we've clinched the tiebreaker over the Lions. pic.twitter.com/uRWGGoUENv
The 10-5 Falcons, who have the league’s best offense, had been pushing for a playoff spot all season long, and have now rattled off three wins in a row. The Buccaneers had been pushing hard in the NFC South on the back of an extremely strong defensive effort, but that defense faltered a little bit the last two weeks against strong Dallas and New Orleans team, leading to two straight losses and ensuring Atlanta makes the postseason and seals up the NFC South.
And so after the Falcons dismantled Carolina, the Saints (!) did their part, beating the Buccaneers handily Saturday afternoon to propel Atlanta into the playoffs. Now the only question is how Atlanta will be seeded, with a shot at a bye in the offing if a couple of things break their way.
That bye would allow players like Austin Hooper and De’Vondre Campbell to get healthy Otherwise, they should (hopefully) be able to earn their way in as the #3 seed. Either way, they’ll be a dangerous team that no one’s going to want to play, and we’ll hope they have a deep postseason run in them. It will depend on the offense staying healthy and humming, and the defense continuing to come up with just enough to help get them the victory. For what it’s worth, I’m more confident by the week that they can win at least one game, and who knows from there?
Congratulations to the Falcons, and congratulations to all of us who haven’t seen the playoffs since the now-ancient 2012 season.