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The Falcons are currently the 7th seed in the NFC

Atlanta’s heart attack-inducing win over the Saints did more than just earn them bragging rights.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Falcons’ last second win over the Saints was absolutely the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, no matter how stressful the road there may have been. It would have been more than enough if there had been no other implications outside of making Saints fans sad, but it turns out the win also would have the Falcons in the playoffs if the season ended today.

With the Panthers going right back to falling apart, this time in a 24-6 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots, Atlanta’s 4-4 record has them sitting at #7 in the NFC playoff picture.

They’re trailed by the Panthers (4-5) and a whole bunch of 3-5 teams at the moment, and while they’re heading into a tough matchup with the Cowboys next Sunday and then get the Patriots on Thursday Night Football, there have been multiple moments this season where this seemed like it would never come close to happening. Kudos to the Falcons, for all their bewildering efforts this season, for battling to the point where they’re sitting here halfway through the season.

Where do they go from here? I’m going to follow my own advice post-Panthers loss and say it’s best to take things week-by-week. Tankathon has the team’s strength of schedule the rest of the way as just the 21st-hardest in the NFL, and while a couple of those games look difficult-to-impossible, matchups with the Saints and 49ers suddenly don’t. Because Atlanta does have a relatively thin roster and are winning games by the skin of their teeth most weeks, their margin for error is extremely small. We do know that they’re capable of superlative stretches of play, especially on offense, and that they’re frisky enough to surprise teams foolish enough to let them hang around. This is all a fancy way of saying the Falcons winning 10 games and pushing into a playoff spot doesn’t seem impossible, even if winding up with 8 wins or fewer still feels more likely.

Let’s hope they can surprise, but for now, it’s fair to just enjoy the win over the Saints and marvel a little that the Falcons are still in the playoff picture in a year where many of us were dubious they would be.