The Atlanta Falcons are coming off back-to-back wins that sparked a coach firing in Tampa Bay and a fire sale in New Jersey, so it’s not a surprise to anyone that they’re being more warmly received by fans and analysts alike. A little defensive improvement here and the continued high-powered thrumming of the offense here and you’ve got yourself a contender, or at least a team that figures to stay in contention until the end.
Will they actually make the playoffs, though? On that count, fans are certainly less certain.
Our weekly FanPulse poll over a random, motley and delightful assortment of Falcons fans found that 58% think the team will ultimately not make the playoffs, which 42% think they will. That feels right, both from an overall fan confidence perspective and given the team’s actual chances. They’ve clawed their way back into the hunt and the NFC is not quite as chock-full of great teams as anticipated, but they still have a lot of ground to make up and are still losing key players to injury on what seems like a weekly basis.
How did the rest of the NFC South fare here, though?
As you’ll note, Saints fans are justifiably confident their team will make it, Panthers fans are confident but perhaps a little bit wary of how difficult Carolina has made more or less every single football game, and Buccaneers fans are even less confident than Falcons fans despite being a little bit ahead in the standings. Again, none of this is surprising or unjustified, though I wonder if the Panthers’ luck will catch up with them at some point.
The percentage of fans who think the team will make the playoffs is lower than the percentage who are confident in the direction of the team, albeit not by much. As you’ll see in our weekly FanPulse graphic, confidence rose 15% up to 50%, which is what you expect after the defense put together one of its better efforts of the year. People are still, very fairly, a little wary about how this team is going to hold up over the long haul.
We’ll see what happens next week when we run this poll, after fans have had an opportunity to digest the season more fully and see how the NFC South fares in a series of tough matchups over the weekend. For now, though, what are your thoughts on the team’s playoff odds and their overall direction?