Who to root for: Week 16

The Falcons have a short week to prepare for a division match up against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday in Charlotte. Check out these photos of the guys at work in Week 16.

The Falcons playoff is picture is pretty simple, or complicated, depending on how you look at it.

If they win, they are basically in the playoffs. Outside of that, there is a lot of wiggle room. When the dust settles in Week 16, they could find themselves anywhere from the #2 seed in the NFC, to #6.

Here's what is on the line for the Falcons this weekend, and who Falcons fans should be pulling for:

  1. The Falcons (over the Panthers): We're guessing you already knew a Falcons win would be good for the Falcons. While an Atlanta victory alone does not clinch a playoff berth, you can pretty much pencil the Falcons in with a win. The list of things that would have to happen to prevent them being in the playoffs is fairly absurd. More importantly, a win over Carolina opens the possibilities of clinching the NFC South division championship on Saturday, and even a move into the second spot in the NFC. It also keeps the Falcons in control of who wins the division, regardless of what Tampa Bay does the rest of the way. This one gets underway at 1:00 pm.
  1. The Saints (over the Buccaneers): It's pretty simple, if Atlanta wins and New Orleans knocks off Tampa Bay on Saturday, the Falcons win the NFC South. And should the Falcons fall in Carolina, a Saints win over the Buccaneers might save Atlanta's season. This game does not kick off until 4:25 pm, so if the Falcons win, they won't know if they have won the division until closer to 7:30 pm.
  1. The Vikings (over the Packers): If the Falcons win, a Minnesota victory over Green Bay, could be the first domino to fall that definitively puts the Falcons into the playoffs. A Packers loss, coupled with an Atlanta win, guarantees the Falcons at least a wild card berth in the NFC. Because this game kicks off at 1:00 pm on Saturday, we will know if Atlanta has clinched a Wild Card spot before they have a chance to sew up the division title.
  1. The Cardinals (over the Seahawks): This one would be a big deal if the Falcons uphold their end of the bargain. That combination would move the Falcons into the NFC's second seed, and put them in the driver's seat for a first round bye. While an Arizona win in Seattle may seem unlikely, the Cardinals and Seahawks have developed a tough rivalry, and the two teams slugged their way to a tie earlier this season. The best possible outcome this weekend for the Falcons would be if results 1, 2 and 4 on this list come to fruition. Arizona and Seattle square off at 4:25 pm.
  1. The Cowboys (over the Lions): If you're a Falcons fan, this Monday Night game may not matter much by the time it is played. At least in terms of the Falcons qualifying for the postseason. A Falcons victory and any other favorable result for Atlanta above would already have put the Falcons in the playoffs. A Lions loss only comes into play if the Falcons lose, the Packers and Buccaneers win, or some combination of those things. But a Lions loss could benefit the Falcons from a seeding perspective, depending on how everything plays out in the final week of the regular season.

Here's a look at the current NFC playoff picture:

In Record NFC Division
xDallas 12-2 8-2 3-2
xSeattle 9-4-1 5-4-1 2-2-1
Atlanta 9-5 7-3 3-1
Detroit 9-5 7-3 3-2
New York 10-4 7-3 3-1
Green Bay 8-6 6-4 3-1
 
In the hunt Record NFC Division
Tampa Bay 8-6 6-4 3-1
Washington 7-6-1 5-4 3-2
x=Clinched a playoff spot

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