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Still A Longshot But 2-5 Falcons Have Chance In Weak Nfc South


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A couple games ago, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith talked about how winning the NFC South would be the "cleanest" way for his team to make the playoffs despite a slow start.

Well, now the Falcons sit at 2-5 and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak as they prepare for Sunday's matchup with the Detroit Lions (5-2) in London. Optimism has all but faded, at least in the eyes of irate fans. And the division race isn't something Smith really wants to discuss anymore.

"This division is going to be a competitive division every single time. ...I'm not concerned about the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Smith said after Sunday's 29-7 loss at Baltimore. "We've got to focus on the Atlanta Falcons. And together, we will pull out of this."

The Falcons were 2-5 to start the 2013 season, then lost their next four and imploded to a 4-12 finish. According to ESPN Stats a& Information, only four teams that have started the season 2-5 have gone on to make the playoffs since the playoffs expanded in 1990: the 2011 Broncos (8-8), the 2002 Jets (9-7), the 1995 Lions (10-6), and the 1990 New Orleans Saints (8-8). That Broncos team was quarterbacked by Tim Tebow, so maybe the Falcons truly do have hope.

Not to mention the sad state on the NFC South means the Falcons have an outside chance to win the division title. There is no team currently above .500 in the division, with the Panthers leading the way at 3-3-1.

The Falcons have the best record in NFC South play at 2-0 with wins against the Saints and Buccaneers, but both of those games were at home. They have three consecutive division road games upcoming -- at Tampa Bay (Nov. 9), at Carolina (Nov. 16) and at New Orleans (Dec. 21) -- and they are 0-4 on the road this season.

Just how bad has the NFC South been this season? The Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints are a combined 8-17-1, including 2-12-1 on the road. The last time a division was as bad record-wise as the NFC South was on the road through 7 weeks was the 2010 NFC West, which was 2-12-0, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Based on combined opponents' records, the Falcons have the toughest remaining schedule (31-26-1) while the Panthers have the easiest (22-35). Only one team left on Carolina's schedule currently sits above .500, and that's the Philadelphia Eagles (5-1).

Falcons receiver Julio Jones was bold enough to say his team is good enough to finish 11-5. Such doesn't seem realistic at this point, but you wonder if an 8-8 Falcons team might actually have a shot. Then anything could happen once you make the postseason. Just ask the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks from a few years back.

But where will the Falcons find wins the rest of the way? They have four road games remaining outside of Sunday's trip to London. They face the NFC-West leading Cardinals (5-1) at home. And the Falcons travel to Green Bay (5-2) on Dec. 8, the exact same date they got buried in the snow at Lambeau Field last season without Aaron Rodgers in the Packers' lineup.

Taking care of business at home against the Browns, Cardinals, Steelers, and Panthers would give the Falcons four more wins, but 6-10 isn't going to get it done. They likely have to go at least 6-3 the rest of the way and beat Carolina at least once over the next nine to have a legitimate shot, all while watching to see how the rest of the division unfolds.

"It's no different when we've been successful, too," quarterback Matt Ryan said of keeping an eye on the division standings. "You always kind of know where things shake out and where things stand. It is what it is.

"We're in the position that we're in. We know where everybody else is at. But I think (Coach) Smitty is right: At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what everybody else does. Ultimately, we've got to worry about and we've got to concern ourselves with what we've got to do to get better."

by Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

http://espn.go.com/b...=espnapi_public

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ok 4 Division games left i say we split 2-2 , then the only team i see us beating would be the Browns... and maybe the Steelers cause they are erratic.. that puts us at 5-11.... cant win the division at 5-11 or 6-10 sorry Vaughn but i dont agree with you article

If we beat panthers once, Tampa again and NO again we lock up a spot easily.

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Seriously though - who wants to see this team in the playoffs?!? I mean seriously! Even if they are able to "back in" what are they going to do?!? Nothing but get embarrassed again in the national spotlight. Nobody wants to see a 7 - 9 team in the playoffs, but I'm afraid the NFC South "Champion" this season will be that team.

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ok 4 Division games left i say we split 2-2 , then the only team i see us beating would be the Browns... and maybe the Steelers cause they are erratic.. that puts us at 5-11.... cant win the division at 5-11 or 6-10 sorry Vaughn but i dont agree with you article

Serious question, do you really see two teams left on our schedule that the Falcons have a realistic shot at beating?

Tampa Bay maybe, but unless we come up against a team that has just thrown in the towel like the redskins did last year, i see us maybe winning one more game

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Ill get bashed for this but this season is over. When the team gets back from London fire Smith and focus the rest of the season on the players that deserve to be starting or players that have shown signs of being a starter. Start benching the players who play half *** football (give up on a play before it actually is over). If you watch every game you will see at least two or three players half *** it but there still out there playing. We have some good players that are on the sidelines for more then 50% of the game, time to give the others a chance.

The best I see is four wins (tops)

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Ugg

Let's say we got 6-10 and somehow back into the playoffs?

Do you want to be the first 6-10 team ever in the playoffs? It would probably lead to some type of change as to who could qualify in the playoffs.

We would also get beat by probably 30-40 points by any playoff caliber team.

i do not want to back intot he playoffs with a horrible record just to get ***** slapped by a real playoff team.

I'd prefer to go 2-14 get a top 3 draft pick and have an entire new coaching staff and maybe a new GM.

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Ugg

Let's say we got 6-10 and somehow back into the playoffs?

Do you want to be the first 6-10 team ever in the playoffs? It would probably lead to some type of change as to who could qualify in the playoffs.

We would also get beat by probably 30-40 points by any playoff caliber team.

i do not want to back intot he playoffs with a horrible record just to get ***** slapped by a real playoff team.

I'd prefer to go 2-14 get a top 3 draft pick and have an entire new coaching staff and maybe a new GM.

Ravens and niners typically look halfassed in the regular season, yet they both make deep playoff runs and suberbowls...GB and NY did it, as stupid as it sounds...why not us? Maybe Matt will start rushing for 200+ ypg

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Serious question, do you really see two teams left on our schedule that the Falcons have a realistic shot at beating?

Tampa Bay maybe, but unless we come up against a team that has just thrown in the towel like the redskins did last year, i see us maybe winning one more game

i hate to use the cliche "any given sunday" but i think we can beat the Browns and the Steelers....... only depending on which team shows up..... if its the Browns that spanked the Steelers and almost beat the Ravens.. we stand no chance......... if its the Browns that lost to the Jags we should win it... if its the Steelers that showed up to the Browns and Bucs game, we could win... if its the Steelers that showed up last night or against the Panthers we will struggle. also both these games are Home games so i give somewhat of an advantage to us....

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Seriously though - who wants to see this team in the playoffs?!? I mean seriously! Even if they are able to "back in" what are they going to do?!? Nothing but get embarrassed again in the national spotlight. Nobody wants to see a 7 - 9 team in the playoffs, but I'm afraid the NFC South "Champion" this season will be that team.

I would love to see us get to 7-9 and make the playoffs.

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This team does not deserve to make the playoffs, and we would be the laughing stock of the league if this somehow happened.

not if we won a playoff game.....

How would we be the laughing stock of the league if we made the playoffs ?????? wouldn't he 3 teams that could not over take us be the laughing stocks???

The Seahawks got in at 7-9 and then shocked the world by beating the saints

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Add me to the list of people who have been eyeing the remaining schedule as well. The best I can see this team doing is 5-11, and I doubt that is possible.

Right now, I am exactly where I was a year ago. All I care about for the remainder of this season is getting Ryan out alive for the future. He has proven to be the toughest guy on a team full of candy azzes, but taking a pounding like he does every week is just risking the odds too much.

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Is there any hope left for this team? Because I feel like most of us on this board have just given up on this team weeks ago. I have a hard time believing that this team can beat Detroit whether they have Megatron or not. Have you seen their defense? They are currently the #1 ranked defense in the league. If a team can shut down Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli Manning in the same season I would not want to face them. Not to mention how intimidating their D-Line is. The thought of their front 4 vs. our front 5 makes me cringe. I just hope Matt Ryan makes it out in 1 piece. I see a repeat of what happened in Baltimore sadly.

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Add me to the list of people who have been eyeing the remaining schedule as well. The best I can see this team doing is 5-11, and I doubt that is possible.

Right now, I am exactly where I was a year ago. All I care about for the remainder of this season is getting Ryan out alive for the future. He has proven to be the toughest guy on a team full of candy azzes, but taking a pounding like he does every week is just risking the odds too much.

Getting Ryan out alive for the future. Isn't this year the future for last year? What's the record so far this year again? I say package Ryan and Julio, it will be " The Trade Part 2 "

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