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Who should Falcons fans root for?


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Week 17 is finally here and the Falcons are about to play their regular-season finale with a playoff berth on the line.

Fortunately, the Falcons still control their own destiny. If they beat the Panthers Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they will clinch the sixth seed. If they should lose to Carolina, the Falcons can still clinch a berth – but only with some help.

Let's break it down.

Panthers (11-4) at Falcons (9-6)
*Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Falcons.

Why: If the Falcons win, they're in. It's that simple. Atlanta can clinch the NFC's sixth seed and will play either the Rams, Saints, Panthers or Vikings in the wild-card round of the playoffs. If both the Falcons and the Seahawks win, the Falcons would clinch the sixth seed despite both teams owning a 10-6 record. Why? Because Atlanta owns the tiebreaker after beating Seattle 34-31 back in Week 11.

If the Falcons should lose

Only one other game directly affects the Falcons' playoff chances should they lose to the Panthers – the Cardinals-Seahawks game in Seattle.

Cardinals (7-8) at Seahawks (9-6)
*Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX) *

Who you should root for: The Cardinals.

Why: If the Falcons lose to the Panthers, they'll fall to 9-7. If the Seahawks win, they'll improve to 10-6 and snatch that final playoff spot from the Falcons. If the Seahawks lose, they're eliminated from the playoffs.

One other scenario

It's highly unlikely, but there's another way for the Falcons to clinch a playoff berth. If Atlanta ended up tying the Panthers and the Cardinals-Seahawks game ended in a tie as well, the Falcons would advance to the postseason.

And who could forget the Seahawks-Cardinals game in 2016 when kickers Steven Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro both missed field goals from under 30 yards in the final 3:25 of overtime to ensure a wild and weird 6-6 tie?

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