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NFL Playoff Picture Update: Falcons Draw Either Cowboys Or Giants

Expect Sunday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) to earn good ratings in Atlanta this week. The winner of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will host the Atlanta Falcons in the opening week of the 2012 NFL playoffs, as the Birds downed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 45-24, to lock up the No. 5 seed.

Rooting for Dallas myself, as it would mean an indoor game and avoiding a hot New York passing game. Then again, 3-4 systems have tripped up the Falcons in the playoffs two times in a row. Then again, Eli Manning throws a lot of interceptions, and Atlanta has a reasonably ball-hawky secondary. I'm torn.

Let's just say it will feel pretty good to play a NFC East champion that isn't the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. Who would've thought that would happen?

Head to for more Week 17 NFL playoff scenarios as the field comes into focus. For more on this game, Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Bucs blog Bucs Nation.

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