This may come as a surprise, but tonight's Carolina-Washington game has more impact on the Falcons chances of making the playoffs than last night's matchup between the Buccaneers and Cowboys. Especially if the Panthers win.
It's not the position they're aiming for, but the Falcons would essentially lock up at least a Wild Card spot next weekend with a win over the Panthers if the Redskins lose against Carolina tonight.
Of course, Atlanta could also be NFC South Champions as early as next Sunday with a win on Sunday and a Buccaneers loss to the Saints.
Okay, follow us on this. Right now, the Redskins are sitting in the second Wild Card spot with a 7-5-1 record. A Washington loss tonight means 10 wins would earn someone the second Wild Card spot. The eventual second place teams in the NFC South (Falcons or Buccaneers) and NFC Central (Lions or Packers) have the best shots of getting there. And if the Falcons were to finish in second place in the South, they hold tie-breakers over the Packers and the Lions.
Long story short, if the Redskins beat the Panthers, and the Falcons win one of their last two games, they will make the Playoffs. In fact, if the Falcons win either of their last two games, fivethirty.com sees the Falcons as having at least a 98 percent chance of earning a playoff spot, regardless of the outcome tonight.
That said, Atlanta has much better options on the table. Simply put, if they win their last two games, they will be the NFC South Champions, and be no worse than the #3 seed in the NFC. With a little help against Seattle, Atlanta could even move into the second seed in the NFC and earn a first round bye.
|In the hunt||Record||NFC||Division|
|x=Clinched a playoff spot|