The NFC playoff grid has the Falcons sitting (or perching) pretty

*** POSSIBLE VISUAL LEDE *** January 1, 2017, Atlanta: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Devonta Freeman celebrate his touchdown pass to Julio Jones (center) for a 21-10 lead over the Saints during the second quarter in an NFL football game on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Happy days? They’re here again. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

As if the afternoon-into-evening hadn’t been splendid enough, what with the Atlanta Falcons storming to a 38-13 lead over the Saints before a festive crowd in what was billed as the Georgia Dome’s final regular-season game, the night went nicely, too. Green Bay beat Detroit, which means the Falcons aren’t likely to see the Packers, who’ve won six in a row, until the NFC title game, which would be staged here if the qualifiers are the local team and the Packers.

Detroit has to open against Seattle. If the Lions win, the Falcons would get the Packers-Giants winner in Round 2, which in the grand scheme wouldn’t be a break. But the Lions, who’ve lost three in a row and been outscored on the season, aren’t apt to prevail at CenturyLink Field, which would mean the Falcons would play the Seahawks in Round 2. And there seems no reason to fear the Seahawks any longer.

Seattle was 3-3 over its final six games. It was 3-4-1 on the road. On Sunday it trailed San Francisco, which had already fired its general manager and would soon fire its coach, by 11 points. The offense isn’t what it was — Marshawn Lynch is long gone; Russell Wilson has had moments of great struggle — and even the great defense has begun to slip.

Arizona scored 34 points in the game that shifted the NFC’s No. 2 seed to the Falcons. The 49ers had 23 on Sunday. These aren’t the Seahawks of 2012-2013-2014. Without Earl Thomas, they aren’t the Seahawks of Oct. 16, 2016. I don’t see them winning here. As weird as it sounds, the Falcons should root for Seattle to beat Detroit; you’d rather see Pete Carroll’s sagging crew in the Division Round than either Aaron Rodgers or Eli Manning.

I do, however, believe Dallas could lose its Division Round game to the Giants, who’ve already beaten the Cowboys twice, and especially to the Packers. If that happens, the last football game in the Dome could be for the NFC championship.

This might seem cart-before-horse stuff, but it really isn’t. The playoff grid is set. Somebody’s going to win the NFC title. The Falcons have a clear path. They also have a very good team. This could happen, folks.

Reader Comments 0

24 comments
Katzenjammer
Katzenjammer

I wouldn't try to "pick" the teams you want to play in the playoffs. That usually backfires. If the Falcons are truly going to be champions they should be able to face anyone and come away a winner. Whether they will or not, of course remains to be seen. The Falcons wretched history usually comes in to play at sometime. There is a reason that only a small proportion of the teams have won Super Bowls and why it is the same "true" group of contenders every year. The Falcons are not in that elite group. We can only hope that we will live long enough to see that day come.

Robert_C
Robert_C

I personally don't want to see Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs...too many memories of the way he played during the last time we faced them in the playoffs

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Robert_C It is amazing to me how pedestrian these so-called elite QBs look against real defenses. Aaron Rodgers look like Blake Bortles. Enough with this elite QB nonsense. Eli Manning looks more in control than Rodgers does. 

SouthGeorgiaStrong
SouthGeorgiaStrong

Just like the NCAA championship will come through the Georgia Dome so will the NFC Championship

TOJacket
TOJacket

Hope they don't have to play Bama.

millerm10
millerm10

If avoiding GB is the concern, then you should've been rooting for the Lions last night, Bradley.  At #6, GB would've been guaranteed not to roll into Atlanta until NFCCG, whereas now that they are #4 they just might.

DawgNole
DawgNole

"I do, however, believe Dallas could lose its Division Round game to the Giants, who’ve already beaten the Cowboys twice . . . ."

_______________

I think those two NY wins would work against the Giants in the event of a third matchup with Dallas. 

Extremely difficult to beat the same team three times in one season.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@millerm10

Uh, 1999???

Like I said, it's extremely difficult to beat the same team three times in one season.

millerm10
millerm10

@DawgNole Tennessee did it to Jacksonville in 1999.  Jacksonville was undefeated against everybody else that year - just like Dallas.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@millerm10

How 'bout this:

I firmly believe the Cowboys win if they face the Giants for a third time this season.

You?

millerm10
millerm10

@DawgNole @millerm10 I'm not so sure.  I could see either team winning that game, should it happen, so I won't be shocked either way.  But pressed to pick a straight up winner, I'd probably take the Giants simply because they won the first 2.


Either way, I'll just be happy to watch - love this time of year in the NFL!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@millerm10

I'd take the Cowboys because they lost the first two.

Only bad thing about the NFL--and CFB, for that matter--this time of year is that it's almost over.

It's been a fast five months.

CoronaGT
CoronaGT

@DawgNole @millerm10

I have to agree with DawgNole on this one.  Both regular season games were very close.  The first loss at Dallas was a 1 point loss in Dak Prescott's and Ezekiel Elliott's first game as Cowboys.  They have 16 games under their belts now.  I think it will be close, but I think Dallas will prevail.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@DawgNole @millerm10 They have to prove it to me. Eli Manning, despite what many think about him as a QB has a proven track record in big games, especially on the road. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Who actually will the Falcons play? Seattle if they beat Detroit or the winner of NYG and Green Bay. Just hope the Falcons offense that played in the first half Sunday shows up and not the one that played the 2nd Half.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

I just hope that the NFL does not "rig" the games so that it gets its best ratings matchup for the Superbowl which do not include Atlanta.


Who they want (who they think America wants):


Cowboys vs. Patriots?

Cowboys vs. Steelers?

Packers vs. Patriots (Rodgers vs. Brady)?

Giants vs. Anybody?


Who they don't want:


Falcons, Chiefs, Texans, Lions, Dolphins, Raiders (w/o Carr) 


WhycantMuscalagetanyrun?
WhycantMuscalagetanyrun?

Yes, correct the NFL rigs games. Im surprised that anyone who genuinely believes games are rigged can turn a computer on let alone type!

Dman
Dman

I also believe the NFL rigs games by making the refs call games certain ways. I've watched the Falcons for 51 years now and I've seen way too many games decided by the refs calls and no calls. Money drives the NFL and the Falcons just aren't a big market team.

brushback69
brushback69

@Dman so do they get together with the refs during the playoffs and instruct them to call them loose or tight on certain teams?


gotta love the conspiracy theorists...