Atlanta Falcons deserve to be in the playoff picture


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The Atlanta Falcons are 4-6 and Mike Smith still has a job.  If you would have told me those things as Graham Gano lined up a 46-yard game-winning field goal on Sunday, I would’ve doubted your sanity.

Atlanta dominated three quarters but per the usual, they tried to give it away in the final period. Graham Gano hadn’t missed a field goal inside of 50 yards in a year, but luckily for the Falcons and Mike Smith, he bricked it. The missed field goal gave the Falcons the road divisional win which put the Falcons atop the NFC South (thanks to the Bengals drubbing of the Saints).

Let’s go over that again. The Atlanta Falcons are 4-6 on the season and are in 1st place. That’s insane, improbable, and disappointing, but it’s the current state of the NFC South.  However, I’ll do you one better, the Atlanta Falcons actually deserve to be in first place and in the mix in the NFC playoff picture.

To get into the playoffs in the NFL, you have to be in one of three spots: Division winner, the first wild-card spot, or the second wild-card spot.  There has been talk about wanting to expand the playoffs in the NFL, but as of today, this is the system we have and this is the system these teams play under. The Atlanta Falcons are in 1st place in the NFC South and are the best team in the division, and therefore, deserve to be in the playoff picture.

Many would say, “Why should a sub-.500 NFC South team make it in over a 10-6 2nd place team?”, but my answer to that would be because the Falcons are the best team in their division and that 2nd place team is not. The way the schedule is set up, the Falcons play over one-third of their schedule in the division, and that has to mean something. There has to be a reward for being the best team in the division that makes up so much of your schedule. Luckily for the Falcons, that reward is a home playoff game. I’ll even go one step further, the Falcons are not nearly as bad as their 4-6 record.

More from Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta has held fourth quarter leads in half of their losses, and should have won at least two of those game (namely, against Detroit and the New York Giants). The Falcons are sixth in the NFC in net total yards on offense, fifth in the NFC in turnover margin, and currently sit second in the NFL in fumble recoveries. The Atlanta defense certainly gives up alot of yards, but they get after the ball carrier and cause problems. No one would look at the Falcons defense and consider it an asset, but come January, every turnover is magnified and teams that take more than they give tend to advance. All of this being said, the schedule that get them to January is as tough as any in the NFL.

The next four opponents for the Atlanta Falcons (Green Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Arizona) are a combined 29-12. Three of those are at home, but those four games are tough no matter how you look at it. Atlanta ends the season with the Saints and the Panthers.

They will most likely need to win both of those divisional games and at least one of the other four in which they will almost certainly be underdogs. If they do all of that, they will be 7-9 and most likely be on top of the NFC South.  The last two wins would put them 6-0 within the division, and prove without a doubt, they are the best in the division and they deserve to be in the playoffs.