Falcons Playoff Scenarios 2011: To New Orleans, Dallas Or New York?

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass as defensive end Junior Galette #93 of the New Orleans Saints rushes in during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The Falcons can play either the Cowboys, Giants or Saints in Round 1 of the NFL playoffs.

Let's just come right out and say it. The Atlanta Falcons lost to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, which is the worst thing in the world. This means the Falcons can't repeat as NFC South champs and will have to make do with either the No. 5 or 6 seed. But hey! Playoffs!

As for opponents, Atlanta has a very good chance of playing the Saints for the third time this season. It's probably not at all worth noting the Falcons are 1-0 all-time against the Saints in the playoffs. Atlanta beat the home team Saints in the 1991 wild card round.

Scenario 1: If the Detroit Lions can beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 17, the Falcons will have to hope the third time's the charm, and I really don't feel like counting on charms when the other side is equipped with voodoo.

Scenario 2: If Green Bay wins and the Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then it's a trip to play either the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants. That one will be settled simply: those two teams play each other.

The bad news, for those hoping to avoid NOLA? The Packers have clinched the No. 1 seed. They have no reason to play Aaron Rodgers and company for the whole game. The good news, for those who want another crack at the Saints? It's the same thing. Just thought there might be somebody out there who really wants to play the Saints again.

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