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What Are the Chances?

4cdcd0dbb6973de916020000.jpg managing editor Jay Adams goes over a possible scenario that would leave the Falcons on the outside of the postseason looking in

A lot of Falcons fans have wondered aloud, "Why haven't the Falcons clinched a playoff spot yet?"

There are two answers: One simple, the other extremely convoluted.

The simple answer is that there's a logjam near the top of the NFC. Yes, the Falcons do have the best record in the conference, but there are plenty of teams nipping at their heels.

How the Falcons lock up a playoff spot from here is pretty simple, too. Win Sunday at Seattle and hope the Giants and Eagles don't tie each other and Atlanta gets a postseason invite.

Now, for the complicated part.

According to, the Falcons have a 99 percent change of making it to the first round of the playoffs. So, where's that other 1 percent?

Follow this scenario:

In Week 15, the Falcons lose to the Seahawks. Also in the NFC, San Francisco beats San Diego, Tampa Bay beats Detroit, Baltimore beats New Orleans, Kansas City beats St. Louis, Green Bay beats New England, the New York Giants beat Philadelphia and Chicago beats Minnesota. * In Week 16, the Falcons lose to New Orleans. Also in the NFC, Chicago beats the New York Jets, Green Bay beats the New York Giants, Tampa Bay beats Seattle, St. Louis beats San Francisco and Philadelphia beats Minnesota. * In Week 17, the Falcons lose to Carolina. Also in the NFC, Philadelphia beats Dallas, the New York Giants beat Washington, Green Bay beats Chicago, San Francisco beats Arizona, New Orleans beats Tampa Bay and Seattle beats St. Louis.




OK, so let's say all that happens. What does that mean?

Well, to understand what happens, we have to know what the results are:

First seed: New Orleans * Second seed: New York Giants * Third seed: Chicago * Fourth seed: Seattle * Fifth seed: Green Bay * Sixth seed: Philadelphia

So how do all those teams get in over the Falcons? It all comes down to tie-breakers, which can sometimes be very confusing.

To give yourself an idea of just how many tie-breakers there are, here's a link to an page that explains the tie-breakers in detail.

Here's how those apply to the Falcons in this scenario:

The Giants win the second seed in this scenario based on a tie-break over Philadelphia based on best win percentage in conference games. The Giants also win the tie-break over Chicago based on head-to-head win percentage. * In the NFC North, Chicago and Green Bay tie in overall record, but Chicago wins the tie-break over the Packers based on best win percentage in division games. * Green Bay wins the tie-break over Atlanta and Philadelphia based on strength of victory. What is strength of victory? It is determined by calculating the combined winning percentages of opponents a team has beaten. * Philadelphia wins the tie-break over Atlanta based on head-to-head winning percentage. The Falcons lost to the Eagles 31-17 in October.

That scenario would put the Falcons at 11-5 overall and in the No. 7 spot — one spot out of the playoffs.

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