With the end of the season nearing, it's time to begin looking at the playoff contenders and determine who's in, who's out and who to root for. AtlantaFalcons.com contributing writer Daniel Cox takes a look at the outside teams that could influence where the Falcons will play at the end of the regular season
There are two scenarios that involve the Falcons on Sunday.
One is good and one is really, really bad.
The bad news is the Falcons can miss the playoffs, a scenario — however remote — that can begin with a loss Sunday to Seattle.
The good news is the Falcons can clinch a playoff spot this Sunday and it's not nearly as convoluted as the above scenario.
If the Falcons win, they're in.
Other scenarios on Sunday that land the Falcons in the playoffs:
New York Giants lose or tie * Chicago Bears loss or tie * Green Bay loss or tie
Falcons at Seahawks:The rooting interest in this one is obvious. The Falcons need this game as bad as the Seahawks need it to stay in the hunt in the NFC West. It appears that if the Falcons win on Sunday, they only need one more win to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Chiefs at Rams:The Falcons ultimately don't have a lot invested in the outcome of this game, which helps determine the champion of the NFC West. If Atlanta wins, the Rams keep their edge over Seattle. Ultimately this division will come down to the Week 17 meeting between the Rams and Seahawks.
Eagles at Giants:A critical game in the division once again involves the Eagles and Giants. Interesting outcomes make this a key game. If all the favorites win this week, the winner of this game changes the landscape of the playoff picture.
A Giants win over Philadelphia would put them in the second seed of the playoffs, would knock the Eagles out and put Tampa Bay in as the sixth seed through 15 weeks.
An Eagles win would put them at No. 3, keep the Bears at No. 2 and put the Giants No. 6.
If Falcons fans want the Eagles, one of only two teams to beat Atlanta this season, to have no chance to face them again, root for the Giants.
Lions at Bucs:This, like the Giants-Eagles game, comes down to who you may want the Falcons to face in the playoffs. If you don't want to see the Eagles, you need to continue to root against them and oddly, hope the Bucs can get on another hot streak.
If the Bucs get on a roll, the Eagles lose some and the Packers provide a little help by losing in Week 16, Tampa Bay could find themselves in the playoffs.
Again, who do you want to face? If it's the Eagles, you need to hope the Bucs lose. If you'd rather see anyone but the Eagles, a Bucs win would be nice.
Saints at Ravens:Outcomes don't change much if the Saints win or lose this week, but as always, it's never a bad thing if the Saints lose.
Packers at Patriots:The Packers have a lot of work to do. They're involved in the Falcons' playoff clincher and they're in Chicago's as well. The Bears win the NFC North with a win and a Green Bay loss.
Green Bay needs a lot of help to get into the playoffs, starting with the Eagles and Bucs losing. If you'd rather see the Packers instead of either of those two teams, there's your answer to who to root for.
Bears at Vikings:If the Giants beat the Eagles, a Bears win won't matter, they'll still drop to the No. 3 seed, which could put them on pace to face the Falcons in the second round of the playoffs. If you like that matchup, it's another reason to root for the Giants this week.