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NFL playoff picture: Who to root for in Week 16 if you are an Atlanta Falcons fan

Week 16 is here and the Atlanta Falcons are on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff picture. Who should Falcons fans root for to help their chances?

An Atlanta fan in the stands during the NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons on December 10th, 2023 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons had a chance to keep pace in the NFC South race in Week 15. Unfortunately, Atlanta was unable to take care of business vs. the Carolina Panthers in a 9-6 loss on a last-second field goal. That puts the Falcons’ chances to make the playoffs at a very slim margin but not unrealistic. The Falcons enter a big game vs. the Indianapolis Colts but need a lot of help to get back into the playoff picture. We look at which teams Falcons fans should be rooting for in Week 16.

Result: The Falcons beat the Colts 29-10 in a must-win game. This is what they had to do, but they still sit at 9th at 7-8 in the NFC playoff standings, while the Rams and Seahawks hold the last two playoff spots at 8-7.

Rams vs. Saints

Result: Rams beat the Saints 30-22. This was the exact result the Falcons needed as they battle the Saints for a playoff spot and the division.

The Falcons need the Saints to lose on Thursday Night Football for obvious reasons. New Orleans is ahead of Atlanta in the division standings at 7-7 while the Falcons are 6-8. The Saints are also a team ahead of the Falcons in the NFC Wild Card race, though the Rams are also in that group as well. The Falcons’ best path to the playoffs is somehow winning the division, so you’re rooting agains the Saints. ATL also plays NOLA in the final game of the regular season.

The Rams are 4-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook

Jaguars vs. Buccaneers

Result: The Buccaneers beat the Jaguars 30-12. The Falcons won, but didn’t gain any ground on the Buccaneers. Time is running out.

Again, the Falcons need the NFC South teams to lose the rest of the season to have a shot at getting into the playoffs. If the Bucs and Saints both lose and the Falcons beat the Colts, it’s back to where we were before Week 15, all squared up at 7-8. The Falcons would still need some help but face the Bears and Saints to end the season. The Bucs and Saints also face each other in Week 17, so one of those teams could drop behind ATL if the Falcons can beat the Colts and Bears the next two weeks.

The Bucs are -1 on the spread on DraftKings Sportsbook

Lions vs. Vikings

Result: Lions beat the Vikings 30-24. This is the result the Falcons needed. The Vikings have the tiebreaker, but their records are tied now.

The Falcons need the Vikings to lose to give themselves a better shot at one of the Wild Card slots. Minnesota dropped to 7-7 on the season with a loss to the Bengals last Saturday. The Lions are still in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and need to seal up the NFC North division. So there’s plenty of motivation on both sides.

The Lions are 3-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook

Seahawks vs. Titans

Result: Seahawks beat the Titans 20-17. This one didn’t go the Falcons way. They remain a game behind the Seahawks in the playoff standings.

The Seahawks are also 7-7 along with the Vikings, Rams, Saints and Bucs. Seattle is coming off a big win over the Eagles at home on MNF in Week 15. That was without QB Geno Smith for a second straight game. Smith should be back for this matchup vs. the Titans. Tennessee is on the outside of the AFC playoff picture and could be forced to start either Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis with Will Levis in concussion protocol.

The Seahawks are 2.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook

Packers vs. Panthers

Result: The Packers won a close one over the Panthers 33-30. This doesn’t help the Falcons, but they do hold the tiebreaker over the Packers with both teams at 7-8.

The Packers have shot themselves in the foot two weeks in a row with back-to-back losses to the Giants and Bucs. Green Bay is at 6-8 and tied with Atlanta, though ahead in the standings due to tiebreakers. The Packers are desperate for a win and face arguably the worst team in the NFL. If Green Bay can get more players healthy, the team should be in better shape on defense. The Falcons could use a Packers loss to get them out of the picture.

The Packers are 5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook