The 34-31 road victory put the Falcons at 6-4, moving them all the way from the 8th seed to the sixth seed. The Green Bay and Dallas losses on Sunday effectively dropped both out of the hunt for the moment (both are 5-5), while Detroit’s win put them in a position to stay at the edges. With Carolina locked into the 5th seed during their bye week thanks to a 7-3 record, it was really just a question of whether Seattle would pick up their 7th win, or whether the Falcons would win and take the sixth seed for the moment.
Happily, they won, and now have head-to-head tiebreakers over Seattle, Green Bay, Dallas, and Detroit. That could be huge.
Here’s how things are currently lining up in the NFC.
- Philadelphia Eagles 9-1
- Minnesota Vikings 8-2
- New Orleans Saints 8-2
- Los Angeles Rams 7-3
- Carolina Panthers 7-3
- Atlanta Falcons 6-4
If this holds, the NFC South will be sending three teams to the playoffs, and it still legitimately does look like one of the best divisions in football. The Eagles are on fire, the Vikings are extremely tough, and the Rams have been far better than anticipated, but I don’t think any of those teams relish playing the Saints, Panthers, or even Falcons in the postseason. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
Of course, none of this may matter or stay the same at the end of the season, but it’s huge for the Falcons to be firmly in the playoff picture this late in the year after some of their ugly losses earlier in the season. They’ll need to keep the good times rolling against Tampa Bay on Sunday to ensure they stay there.