The Atlanta Falcons have not appeared in the playoffs since the 2017-2018 season, where they lost in the Divisional Round. Since then, the team has yet to finish with a .500 or above record and have entered a new era with the hiring of head coach Arthur Smith and General Manager Terry Fontenot.
In the new regime’s first season, the Falcons are in a unique situation due to the expanded NFL playoffs that there is plenty of draft talk as well as the slight possibility that they can make the playoffs. We had mostly stopped talking about it after that 49ers loss, but somehow with two games to go, they still do have a chance. I’ll lay that out for you today.
First and foremost, the Falcons have to win out. They have two games remaining, one on the road against the Buffalo Bills and one at home against the New Orleans Saints. If they lose either of those two games, they are officially eliminated from playoff contention. As of this posting, the Falcons have the worst odds of making the playoffs of remaining teams who have yet to be eliminated, with a 2% chance according to FiveThirtyEight.com. Below is a few things to keep an eye on if you want the Falcons to make the playoffs this season.
The Philadelphia Eagles must finish 0-2
Assuming the Falcons do win their next two games, they additionally need a lot of help. Most notably they’ll need it from the Philadelphia Eagles, who hold the tiebreaker over the Falcons due to a Week 1 victory. The Eagles are currently 8-7 and would need to lose both of their final two games for the Falcons to have a chance. The Eagles’ final two games are on the road against The Washington Football Team and at home against the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas defeated the Eagles in Week 3 with a score of 41-21, while Washington recently fell to Philadelphia in Week 15 17-27. There’s no scenario where the Eagles finish 1-1 and the Falcons make the playoffs. The Eagles must lose out, plain and simple.
The Minnesota Vikings must lose at least one game
Assuming the Falcons win their next two games and the Eagles lose out, it’s possible the Falcons still miss the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings who are currently 7-8 would also have to lose one of their next two games for the Falcons to make it. The Vikings final two games are on the road against the Green Bay Packers and at home against the Chicago Bears. The Packers game is more likely to be the loss than the other option, but regardless, if the above scenarios happen and the Vikings went out, the Falcons miss the playoffs.
The Falcons’ other path
There is somehow another path for the Falcons to make the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers, who recently defeated the Falcons and secured the tiebreaker, would have to lose out and the Vikings still lose a game. In this scenario, what the Eagles do in their final two games wouldn’t matter. The currently 8-7 49ers’ final two games are at home against the Houston Texans and on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams game is a potential loss, but I wouldn’t bank on a loss to the Texans. But, any given Sunday.
I know a lot of folks are over the playoff talk, and that’s understandable. The Falcons loss some key games which would’ve made their path actually possible, instead of giving them a 2% chance. But until they’re officially eliminated, the path remains.