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Heading into Week 9, the Falcons are one game away from the NFC South lead

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And they have a chance to leapfrog the Panthers with a win this coming weekend.

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have now played seven games, and despite a litany of mistakes and continued questions about their ability to play a complete football game, they’re sitting at 4-3. However fortune they may be to be above .500, at least they are.

That leaves them just a little behind in the NFC South race. The Saints are 5-2 and playing good football right now, but they have had enough struggles against a depleted Packers team and offense-free Chicago Bears team to make you think they’re not an insurmountable challenge. The Panthers have been either very good or very bad most of the year thus far, though they have enough talent to contend all year. The only team that is basically out of at this point is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will almost assuredly be shaking up their coaching staff and front office this offseason if their current play continues.

In light of their current situation, we can’t dismiss the Falcons’ chances of winning this division just yet, especially if they’re ready to play better football. Without some of the turnovers and unlucky bounces in the rain today, there’s no question they would have won by multiple scores, field goal misses by New York aside. If they can beat the Carolina Panthers in their Week 9 matchup, it’ll put them at 2-1 in their current road swing, and positioned to make a run at 5-3. We didn’t see enough from the Falcons today to declare them back in contention, but every win helps.

Here’s a look at the standings. We’ll break down the division in more detail in the days ahead, but suffice to say this race is far from over.

NFC South Standings

New Orleans Saints: 5-2

Carolina Panthers: 5-3

Atlanta Falcons: 4-3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-5