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Who should Falcons fans root for?


In case you haven't been paying attention, know this much when it comes to the Falcons' playoff chances: Atlanta controls its own fate. Not only that, if the Falcons win their next three games, they'll wrap up the 2017 season as the NFC South champions.

Now, a lot of other things could happen, too, that are beyond the Falcons' control. But if they win out, only good things will happen. We just don't know how good as of now.

So, who should you root for in Week 15? Let's go through all of the games that could affect the Falcons, beginning with their own on Monday night.


Falcons (8-5) at Buccaneers (4-9)
*Mon., 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) *

Who you should root for: The Falcons.

Why: As noted above, if the Falcons can win their final three games, they'd win the NFC South and host a playoff game. If they do that, the also clinch (at worst) the No. 4 seed. Could they clinch a higher seed by the end of Week 17? Yes, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Things could change considerably if the Falcons don't take care of business and beat the Bucs.


Packers (7-6) at Panthers (9-4)
*Sun., 1 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Panthers.

Why: Surprised? Don't be. If your main goal is reaching the playoffs, then seeing the Packers lose helps considerably. Same goes for the Lions, Cowboys and Seahawks. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Falcons currently have a 66 percent chance of making the playoffs. If those four teams – who are all currently trailing the Falcons – end up losing in Week 15, Atlanta’s playoff chances end up jumping to 80 percent. If the Saints lose, that percentage only bumps up a little more to 82 percent, for what it's worth. One last thought: Does anyone really want to see the Packers win out, sneak into the playoffs and face Aaron Rodgers? (That's rhetorical.)

Rams (9-4) at Seahawks (8-5)
*Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Rams.

Why: As noted above, nothing really good for the Falcons comes from the Seahawks winning in Week 15. The more separation the better. Another reason it's good if the Rams win? It guarantees the Falcons clinching a berth with just two wins. Now, if the Falcons win out, there are some scenarios where the Rams and Falcons could be competing for the third and fourth seeds. So, if the Rams end up dropping one of their last two games, that would be a good thing. Falcons fans just want Los Angeles to win this weekend first.


Jets (5-8) at Saints (9-4)
*Sun., 1 p.m. ET (CBS) *

Who you should root for: The Jets.

Why: The Saints are the projected No. 4 seed at the moment, but if they were to stumble down and drop some games – including one to the Falcons on Dec. 24 – they could be miss the playoffs altogether. In fact, if the Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks all win and the Saints lose this weekend, New Orleans would be on the outside looking in with two games to go. As much as Falcons would love to see the Saints fall out of the race, they might not want the Seahawks to win this weekend.

Eagles (11-2) at Giants (2-11)
*Sun., 1 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Giants.

Why: I'm adding this one for all the conspiracy theorists out there. This game will not have a direct impact on the Falcons making the playoffs, but it could affect Atlanta down the road. How so? Well, if the Falcons win their next three games and the Eagles and Vikings should stumble (hard) down the stretch, that would give the Falcons a higher seed and, possibly, a first-round bye. Some pretty crazy stuff would have to happen, mind you, but anything is possible. Right? Quick, someone cue “The Twilight Zone” intro.


Bengals (5-8) at Vikings (10-3)
*Sun., 1 p.m. ET (CBS) *

Who you should root for: The Bengals.

Why: Will this game have a huge impact on the Falcons getting into the playoffs? No. But … just like with the Eagles, a loss here and another stumble in the coming weeks could help the Falcons when it comes to seeding. Again, the Falcons need to win out for some of those scenarios to unfold. And keep in mind, too, that the Vikings own a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Falcons. But if Minnesota were to lose all of its final games, so weird scenarios could unfold. Is it likely? No, but you never know. So, start working on your “Who Dey” chant for this one (not to be confused with “Who Dat,” of course).


Cowboys (7-6) at Raiders (6-7)
*Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) *

Who you should root for: The Raiders.

Why: The Falcons have the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Cowboys, who are currently on the outside looking in. A loss to the Raiders would not only create more separation with the Falcons (thus increasing Atlanta's chances of clinching), but it would also deal death blow to Big D's postseason hopes. So, channel your inner Al Davis and repeat after me, "Just win, baby."


Bears (4-9) at Lions (7-6)
*Sat., 4:30 p.m. ET (NFLN) *

Who you should root for: The Bears.

Why: The Falcons have beaten both the Bears (in Week 1) and the Lions (in Week 3), so they own head-to-head tiebreakers over each. That's a good thing. The Bears have been eliminated from the playoffs, but the Lions are still alive and nipping at the heels of the Falcons. If the Bears can hand the Lions a loss and knock them down to 7-7, that would create some separation and further ensure the Falcons of clinching a playoff berth over the next few weeks, even if they were to slip along the way.

Cardinals (6-7) at Redskins (5-8)
*Sun., 1 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Redskins.

Why: Don't expend too much energy on this one, unless you have ties to the D.C. area and just feel like singing “Hail to the Redskins.” Washington has been officially eliminated from the playoff race, but the Cardinals still have a pulse – a fading one. Regardless, a Cardinals loss or a Seahawks win at any point over the next three games would mean curtains for the redbirds.

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