Thanks to the NFC South’s constant and unrelenting mediocrity, the Falcons hung around in the NFC playoff picture far longer than they would have in a year where the division was better. That bumpy, unlikely road to the postseason officially ended on Saturday, however.
With a loss to the Ravens, plus wins from the Panthers and Saints, Atlanta’s prolonged playoff dreams are over. At 5-10, they’re in the basement of the NFC South with two games to go, and they have no way of climbing their way back into the division race. The best they can hope to do is play spoiler in Week 18 against the Buccaneers.
It’s a frustrating way for this to end, given how many close games the Falcons played where a single play or a couple of plays going a different way would’ve put them in a position to win and be leading the division this year. Those close losses—and the less close losses—are a reminder that resilience can carry you only so far, and the Falcons are in need of the kind of improvement only dollars and draft picks can deliver them. Fortunately, the team has plenty of both heading into the spring, and all that’s left against the Cardinals and Buccaneers is targeting better outcomes, growth, and some belated wins after so many losses have piled up over the past two months.
We’ll take a closer look at the NFC South once the Buccaneers play tomorrow, but suffice to say we no longer have to consider the increasingly long odds of a Falcons postseason appearance. Let’s hope 2023 doesn’t end the same way.