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NFL Playoff Picture: In Most NFC Scenarios, Falcons Take Home Field Over Saints

With three weeks to go, the Falcons need two wins to secure home field advantage.

The Atlanta Falcons can still clinch a playoff spot in week 14 if the New York Giants lose tonight to the Minnesota Vikings, but they remain in line for a much bigger prize: NFC home field advantage. In the AFC the New England Patriots have already clinched a postseason appearance, leading one to wonder about that popular early-season claim that the AFC is tougher than the NFC.

If the Falcons win two of their remaining three games, they'll take home field whether they beat the New Orleans Saints or not. Tiebreakers explained here. Atlanta's other two games are against the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, so that's hardly out of the question. If the Falcons lose at Seattle this weekend, they'll need to beat the Saints in the Dome on Monday Night Football the following week. Oh, and the Panthers at home.

Down the stretch the Saints have the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Baltimore on the road. That's a much, much tougher stretch than the Falcons face, but the Saints are the league's second-hottest team, behind the Falcons of course.

In the NFC the Bucs and Green Bay Packers are a half-game behind the Giants, and could move into a tiebreaker position tonight. AFC bubble teams include the San Diego Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, and Miami Dolphins, all a game out. And then there's the NFC West, where everybody down to the 5-8 San Francisco 49ers is still in the running. Maybe the AFC is tougher after all.

NFC:

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-2)
  2. Chicago Bears (9-4)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-4)
  4. St. Louis Rams (6-7)
  5. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
  6. New York Giants (8-4)

AFC:

  1. New England Patriots (11-2) *
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5)
  5. New York Jets (9-4)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
* - Clinched playoffs

Wild card round:

  • Giants at Eagles
  • Saints at Rams
  • Ravens at Chiefs
  • Jets at Jaguars
Division round:
  • Lowest-seeded winner at Falcons
  • Highest seeded winner at Bears
  • Lowest-seeded winner at Patriots
  • Highest-seeded winner at Steelers

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.