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The Falcons road to the playoffs runs through their six NFC South games

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Win in the NFC South, win the NFC South.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons could get to the playoffs in any number of ways, but their 4-3 start to the season ensures that there’s only one easy way in: Winning their NFC South matchups.

As Desmond Trufant told reporters yesterday, the road to the playoffs runs through the division. The Saints are the class of the division thus far, but they have weaknesses on defense, and the Panthers have been an inconsistent team at best. The Buccaneers stink out loud at the moment, and will hopefully continue to do so. You don’t have to squint super hard to think that a resurgent Falcons team can take four wins from that slate, which would put them at seven for the year and put them in a solid position to make a playoff run.

All three of Atlanta’s non-divisional games come against NFC contenders. The Cowboys may not have Ezekiel Elliott (update: actually maybe they will have him), but they’re still a tough football team, and the Vikings and Seahawks are genuinely good. Win two in there, win four in the division, and you’re at 9-7 and in the playoff picture. If the Falcons can really get it together, they can probably fare better than that, but I’m trying not to be greedy.

Taking care of business in the division starts with this Sunday’s game against the Panthers, who get to be at home but are facing off against Atlanta with real questions about their offense. A win there puts the Falcons two games over .500, builds confidence, and delivers a setback to a Panthers team that is also contending for the division crown.

Let’s get it.