As we've been chronicling here, the Atlanta Falcons entered the weekend needing three particular things to happen to ensure their third playoff trip in four years -- which would be the finest run in franchise history, as the previous best was three in five years.
On the first-minus-one day of Christmas, the Philadelphia Eagles* and Cincinnati Bengals brought to us losses by the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, meaning the Birds are only a Christmas night Chicago Bears loss (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) away from clinching the playoffs even before playing on Monday Night Football.
Chicago's opponent happens to be the Green Bay Packers, who are two-touchdown favorites at Lambeau Field. The Pack has yet to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed, so there's no chance of starters being pulled early. And Chicago's down Jay Cutler. All signs point to this being a very merry Christmas in Atlanta indeed.
As it lines up now, the Falcons are likely to travel to the New York Giants in the wild card round, with a trip to Green Bay awaiting the winner. But if the Falcons can win out and the Saints lose to the Carolina Panthers, the Birds could instead welcome the Detroit Lions for the chance to play the 49ers instead.
* Even better, Philly did Atlanta's dirty work while being eliminated from playoff contention. Pretty good weekend!