clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL playoff picture: What does Falcons-Saints mean for NFC standings

The Falcons face the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

General view of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome from field level during the NFL regular season football game against the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Nov, 22, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Update: The Saints beat the Falcons 21-18, and both teams now sit at 5-9. Neither team has a particularly high chance of making the playoff, but neither has been officially eliminated from contention.

The New Orleans Saints host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a matchup that offers particular intrigue to Falcons fans. The team elected to bench quarterback Marcus Mariota and install third round pick Desmond Ridder as their starter the final four games of the season. The team kicks off his NFL debut at 1 p.m. ET and are four-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Falcons playoff picture

Atlanta is 5-8 and sits tied with the Panthers a game back of the Bucs for first place in the NFC South. The Falcons are approximately 2.5 games back of the 7-5-1 Commanders and Giants for the final two wild card berths. The Seahawks, Lions, Packers, and Panthers are all in between Atlanta and a wild card berth.

If the Falcons win, they would either remain a game back of the Bucs or move into a tie for first place if the Bucs lose to the Bengals. The two teams face off in Week 18. Atlanta will also have their eye on the Steelers-Panthers game. Carolina has the same record as Atlanta and currently has the division record tiebreaker edge (3-1 vs. 1-3) since they split the head-to-head series.

If the Falcons lose, they can’t be eliminated from anything, but it’s a big blow to their faint playoff chances.

Saints playoff picture

New Orleans is 4-9 and sitting a game back of the Falcons and Panthers. There’s little chance they make the playoffs, although the NFC South remains open to them heading into Sunday. The Saints would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss and either a Bucs win or tie, or a Panthers win.

Tiebreaker implications

This will impact the division record tiebreaker, which the Falcons currently trail against the Panthers.