Atlanta Falcons: 3 Playoff scenarios heading into Week 16

The Atlanta Falcons are 9-5 and sitting pretty as the 3rd seed in the NFC…for now.

The NFC playoff bracket is far from set with two weeks still remaining in the regular season. That’s two weeks for the Atlanta Falcons to potentially move up or be completely bounced out of the playoff picture. Yes, the Falcons still haven’t guaranteed their spot.

Here’s a look at the few scenarios in play prior to Week 16.

Dec 18, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) reacts with Tevin Coleman (26) and Patrick DiMarco (42) after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the 49ers 41-13. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 18, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) reacts with Tevin Coleman (26) and Patrick DiMarco (42) after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the 49ers 41-13. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NFC #3 Seed

Happens if…

  • Seahawks finish 11-4-1 and
  • Falcons finish 11-5

Or…

  • Seahawks finish 11-4-1 and
  • Falcons finish 10-6 and
  • Buccaneers finish 10-6 and
  • a 10-6 NFC North Champion

Under this likely scenario, the Falcons welcome the 6th seed at home for the wildcard round. Things would be different had it not been for the October loss at Seattle. Still, the Falcons are well in control of their destiny here and few can complain about an 11-5 finish with a home game to open the postseason.

Odds are the Redskins, Buccaneers, Lions, or Packers end up coming to Atlanta as the 6th seed.

NFC #2 Seed

Happens if…

  • Falcons finish 11-5 and
  • Seahawks finish 10-6-1

In this best case scenario, Atlanta secures a first round bye and a home game in the divisional playoffs. A week off would do the Falcons some good in ensuring Julio Jones is 100% and potentially, the return of Adrian Clayborn. On the flip side, a bye week can result in a major momentum-killer for a Falcons team that gets stronger with each game.

Regardless, the only realistic shot Seattle loses another game is to the Cardinals on Christmas Eve. Arizona comes off a high-scoring loss to New Orleans, but was able to play the Seahawks to a 6-6 tie back in October.

Miss the Playoffs

Happens if…

  • Falcons finish 10-6 and
  • Buccaneers finish 10-6 and
  • Redskins finish 10-5-1 and
  • Giants finish 11-5

It’s a scenario we don’t care to think about, but is still in play. A Falcons’ loss coupled with the Buccaneers winning out, gives Tampa Bay the tiebreaker by way of better divisional record. This would be a crushing blow to Falcons Nation, considering where both teams are at heading into this week’s action.

Should Atlanta fall into wildcard territory, all eyes are on the NFC East.

Should Atlanta fall into wildcard territory, all eyes are on the NFC East. If the Giants beat the Eagles in Week 16 and the Redskins win out…its Armageddon for the Falcons.

This scenario is assuming the Redskins beat the Panthers tonight. A Redskins loss on Monday Night Football would further complicate the scenario, but still offer no guarantees to a 10-6 Falcons team.

An even worse scenario is the Falcons dig their own grave with a 9-7 finish.

We’ll remain positive and confident in Atlanta to finish the season strong. Still, there’s no looking past a road game in Carolina and a home finale vs the high-octane Saints’ offense.

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