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NFC playoff picture: The Falcons are edging their way into the conversation

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Atlanta’s #7 right now in a six team race with eight games to go.

Atlanta Falcons v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

A week ago, while they sat idly on their couches watching the rest of the NFC, the Falcons were the 10th seed in the NFC. One week and one win later, plus some help from the Patriots and Chargers, Atlanta’s all the way up to 7th, just outside of the six playoff teams who would actually be going to the postseason if the season ended today.

How did we get there? Let’s take a look.

Essentially, you can thank the Falcons taking care of business and other teams not doing so. The Falcons tightened up the NFC East for the Eagles and Cowboys, not that they’re likely to get a thank you card for doing so, and the Patriots beat the Packers and Chargers beat the Seahawks to knock both of them back. Both the East and North are huge messes right now, with those teams hopefully continuing to beat up on one another, and the South and North have clear title contenders atop the division that nobody is probably catching.

This team has virtually no shot at the division barring a total collapse from the Saints, but the Panthers may be within reach and no other team in the NFC is way out in front in the playoff hunt right now, as every contender is flawed, injured or both. If they can head into the Saints game at 6-4—to say nothing of stealing one on the road on Thanksgiving—they can absolutely do this thing, which is remarkable given how this season began.

Of course, with eight games left to go, this doesn’t mean a whole lot except that the Falcons are still very much in the hunt. We’ll hope they can continue to defy the odds after starting 1-4 and get to the dance.