Matt Ryan stepping into a throw against Seattle. (Associated Press)

Matt Ryan stepping into a throw against Seattle. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Here’s how the NFC playoffs will shake out if all of the favorites win this week.

In the NFC,

1. Atlanta Falcons

2. Chicago Bears

3.  Philadelphia Eagles

4.   St. Louis

5. New Orleans

6. Green Bay

Outside looking in: Tampa Bay, New York Giants and Seattle.




CLINCHED: Chicago – NFC North and a first-round bye

Philadelphia – NFC East

Atlanta – playoff spot

New Orleans – playoff spot


Atlanta clinches NFC South and a first-round bye with:

3)    ATL win or tie OR

4)    NO loss or tie

Atlanta clinches homefield advantage with:

3)    ATL win or tie OR

4)    NO loss or tie + CHI loss or tie


Chicago clinches homefield advantage with:

1)    CHI win + ATL loss + NO loss or tie


New Orleans clinches NFC South and homefield advantage with:

1)    NO win + ATL loss


Green Bay clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    GB win OR

2)    GB tie + NYG loss or tie + TB loss or tie OR

3)    NYG loss + TB loss


New York Giants clinch a playoff spot with:

1)    NYG win + GB loss or tie OR

2)    NYG tie + GB loss + TB loss or tie


Tampa Bay clinches a playoff spot with:

1)    TB win + NYG loss or tie + GB loss or tie OR

2)    TB tie + NYG loss + GB loss


St. Louis clinches NFC West with:

1)    STL win or tie


Seattle clinches NFC West with:

1)    SEA win

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

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137 comments Add your comment


December 30th, 2010
7:35 pm

First! Happy New Year Everyone and GO FALCONS and DAWGS

Colonel Kurtz

December 30th, 2010
7:36 pm

The Dogkiller Returns

December 30th, 2010
8:02 pm

I think everyone already knew this. The Falcons know the stakes.

Now it’s time to deliver, unlike on Monday, which was COMPLETELY unforgivable.

Fan since Nobis

December 30th, 2010
8:15 pm

I’ve been a fan since day one, so forgive me if I’m a little sceptical. I would have bet the house the Falcons would have lost to the Saints because, according to there past, that’s what they would do…and it happened. It would not surprise me if the Falcons lost to Carolina and then went one and out in the playoffs. Why? Because that’s their MO. They have no winning tradition and they still don’t know how to win the big one. Beat the Saints and you are in all the way with home field. They lost and now they need help to gain home field advantage throughout. They still don’t know how to win the big one. I hope I am proven wrong this year…I just don’t know.


December 30th, 2010
8:16 pm

Unforgivable? A bit harsh! We should take care of business on Sunday and all will be right.


December 30th, 2010
8:17 pm

They don’t need any help for home field, just win one!


December 30th, 2010
8:31 pm

If they can’t beat the Panthers than they don’t even deserve to be in the playoffs

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December 30th, 2010
8:37 pm

C’mon Fan Since Nobis, Vikings at Minnesota in ‘98 to go to the Super Bowl (among others) was not a big one? And besides, this is a different team. They simply ran into a good team with more motivation than themselves on Monday. Sunday will be different and so will the playoff games. When it’s do or die this team will DO!

old man from Titanic

December 30th, 2010
8:41 pm

@ kc22… Here, Here!

Najeh Davenpoop

December 30th, 2010
8:41 pm

The Panthers are beyond awful. Falcons could play their backups the entire game and probably would still win. The playoff picture is pretty much set for seeds 1 through 5 (I don’t care about the 4 seed, since both those NFC West sacrificial lambs are pretty much interchangeable). The games that determine the 6 seed will be the most interesting ones this weekend — TB/NO, NYG/WAS, and GB/CHI.


December 30th, 2010
8:46 pm

should have put it away last week


December 30th, 2010
8:49 pm

last mondays loss was a good loss. atl will likely face the saints again in the 2nd week of the playoffs. very hard to beat a team 3 times in a yr. falcons will be much more motivated next time around instead of the saints being extra motivated.


December 30th, 2010
9:01 pm

Well it looks to me like we need to start getting ready for aaron rodgers to come back to the dome because thats going to happen. Then we will get a chance to beat the saints once and for all at the dome followed by a tough task in a classic Ryan vs Brady battle for the ring!!!!

Braves #17 Fan

December 30th, 2010
9:14 pm

I echo JC44’s posts. “Unforgivable” is going overboard. And “need help to gain home field advantage”?? They only need to win one game. Their record after Sunday will be 13-3. That is very respectable! I believe there were a couple of Super Bowl winners that went 9-7 in the regular season.

And what makes game #15 the “big one”. Does the “W” in games 1-14 have less weight? Absolutely not!! Go Falcons!!


December 30th, 2010
9:17 pm

Look,our Birds weren’t going to beat the Aint’s 3 times this year……….I think we are right where we should be………good coaching Smitty!!!

Fly like an Eagle………………into the future……………(a Steve Miller song, not an ode to Phils)


December 30th, 2010
9:37 pm

D. Orlanda, I do not know if people ever take the time to say thanks – I am. I appreciate all of your efforts keeping me informed on my Falcons. You put a lot of effort into it and it shows! Thanks man! Happy New Year


December 30th, 2010
9:46 pm

I am beginning to heal from MNF but I believe in my Falcons and I KNOW they will take care of business on Sunday!!!! Falcons will clinch baby!!!!


December 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

Fan since Nobis……….Sorry, but you don’t sound like much of a fan, in my opinion.
The Falcons do not need help to attain the NFCS title, and home field in the playoffs. They have to beat the team with the worst record in the NFL, and it is theirs. Nobody else needs to do anything.
I don’t have the slightest doubt that they will defeat the Panthers.

Bird Droppings IV

December 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

Go Birds Go!

The Dogkiller Returns

December 30th, 2010
10:42 pm

Losing to your arch-rival at home (or anywhere) is unforgivable. Especially when the world is watching.

Plus, this is the only Atlanta pro sports team that has a clear arch-rival, year-after-year and regardless of either team’s record, so I better not see them lose, and especially not at home.


December 30th, 2010
11:27 pm

Folks, It is a given. Falcons will play NO in their first playoff game. Philly will beat Giants, GB, or TB in the wildcard, therefore Falcons will play the low seed which will be NO after they beat St.L or Seattle.


December 30th, 2010
11:45 pm

fan since Nobis—At least we know you don’t understand the playoff picture. We win against Carolina and we clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. So we don’t need help to get it. I can’t believe we have fans that are complaining when our team is going to finish with the best record in the NFC. We will win on Sunday and clinch home field. Our first playoff game will probably be the Saints and our chance to pay them back for taking the pictures on our mid field logo after Monday Night. Let’s go Falcons!! We believe in you and look forward to watching the Super Bowl, probably against the PATS who are going to be diffcult for anyone who faces them but who knows, could be the Steelers, Ravens that make it. I think this is going to be the best playoffs in a long time. NFC is strong with the Falcons, Saints, Eagles, Bears, Packers. Anyone of these teams could make it. GO FALCONS!!


December 30th, 2010
11:49 pm

Fan since Nobis December 30th, 2010 8:15 pm
> They lost and now they need help to gain home field advantage throughout.
I, too, am a fan since day one, having gone to the Falcons first game, a 9-7 loss to the Eagles. The only touchdown of the game was by one Ron Smith.

That’s a round about way of saying I pay attention… the Falcons need only to beat Carolina this weekend to get homefield advantage. It doesn’t matter what the others do.

Re-read the article. And rise up!


December 31st, 2010
12:02 am

NFL needs to change it’s playoff seeding policy!

I said this to all of my friends 2 years ago when the Patriots were left out of the playoffs with an 11-5 record because someone from the mediocre-at-best 2008 AFC West had to go to the playoffs. Now, we have a NFC West team that’s going to make the playoffs, with a HOME first game I might add, with a 500 or worse record? It’s shameful that a much better team couldn’t get that spot.

I propose the NFL do this:

First, in order for a division to be represented in the playoffs, the division winner must at least have a winning record. Else, the highest-ranked wild card team gets that home playoff game in the first round and the “outside looking in” wild card team gets the last seed. A crazy weak division like the NFC West would just miss out, as they should. If you’re in a division with the seahawks, cardinals, and 49ers and you can’t win more than 7-8 games (when 6 are played against your 3 lowly division mates), you DO NOT deserve a playoff spot.

Secondly, if a potential wild card team (lower than 6th seed) has a record 2 games or better than the division winner of a weak division, the same scenario unfolds. Weak division gets to try again next year. For example, in Mr. Ledbetter’s article above, the Giants or Bucs at 10-6 would be 2 games or more better than the rams, thus gaining them a spot in the playoffs as the final seed.

The NFL really needs to look at this. An 8-8 or 7-9 team could have a first round home playoff game against a team with 10, 11, or even 12 wins. That’s just plain stupid.

Commish, get your head outta your rear, stop fining players for stupid crap, and fix this NFL.

Hey R

December 31st, 2010
12:07 am

R… you are an idiot. The NFL playoff policy is the best there is. The last team to not make the playoffs with 11 wins was Denver.

Hey R

December 31st, 2010
12:13 am

You want to host a playoff game? Win your freakin division. 2nd place teams don’t get to host playoff games. I don’t care how many games you won.

The plaque for the alternates is in the ladies room…


December 31st, 2010
12:40 am

R$, that’s the dumbest most inverted thing I’ve heard all day.

Joe Tess Fish House

December 31st, 2010
12:47 am

Why am I still band from posting?

This Gets Old!

December 31st, 2010
1:38 am

Steve Miller Band … Fly into the Future. I HATE THAT SONG and now it’s stuck in my head.

This Gets Old!

December 31st, 2010
1:46 am

Anyone who has been a Falcon fan since game one (as am I) who has one word of criticism about this years team is clearly insane. The Falcons since the arrival of the new regime have the exact same regular season record as the Saints. In two pressure packed games against the Super Bowl Champions Atlanta and N.O have scored forty one points with both winning road games. We’re just in the third year with this group and already are talking home field advantage and legitimately the Super Bowl. Four more wins and the Falcons are NFL champions. Who in [Hades] can complain about that??

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December 31st, 2010
2:29 am

I think that the only thing that would help us get over the anger of losing against the “Aints” is, for them to come back here during the playoffs and we beat the crap out of them. Our defense held up very well, our coaching staff could have had a more proactive move for the offense. Points should have been on that board and “especially” after John Abraham interception. Im tired of the comentaters crapping on the Falcons. Please take it to the Super bowl baby!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shut there mouths like the Giants did against the undefeated Patriots years ago. What do Falcons do???? RISE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!


December 31st, 2010
3:34 am

M – I got through the entire posts thinking I was going to be the first to Rise up.. and you had to be the first Rise Up at the last post… oh well – RISE UP!!


December 31st, 2010
4:12 am

Yay, its Friday and time to look *forward* to the Carolina game.
Can Carolina come to Atlanta and get a win to spoil Atlanta’s hopes of a 1st round bye?

Will Atlanta show up focused and ready to put this weaker team down?

Will Atlanta fans show up for the game?

This weeks score is hopefully 31-3 Falcons in the 3rd…


December 31st, 2010
4:17 am

And who cares about the record of a division winner. The rules do not say you have to have a better record than the other teams in the conference to win your division.
The home games are reserved for division winners. If you dont like watching your 12-4 (or 11-5) team travel to the NFC West division winner, then dont lose so much.

The real travesty would be to allow wild card teams to host any playoff games.


December 31st, 2010
6:39 am

I’m constantly amazed at the naysayers on this blog. Just a suggestion…if you don’t like the way our team has played this year, and aren’t thankful for Coach Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, Mr. Blank and our wonderful team…go take a hike! It’s fine to make thoughtful suggestions and offer observations that you think are worthy of consideration, but to just slam the Falcons because you don’t think they are a good team is lame at best. It also shows that you know absolutely nothing about Pro Football and should just concentrate on your “Professional” wrestling instead. I, for one, have loved the Falcons since I attended my first game against the Rams in 66 (the “real” LA Rams), and I won’t be a fair-weather fan regardless of their record!
RISE UP Falcons!


December 31st, 2010
7:05 am

The only reasonable expectation for any team is to have a chance to win each game. NO and ATL played a tough game. If they did it again, it could just as easily go the other way. The NO loss does not diminish what ATL has done this year.

Mitch (the one in Rome)

December 31st, 2010
7:53 am

Part of me wants NO again in a playoff game in the dome and rub their face in it and then again part of me would not mind our guys having a cupcake like Seattle or St. Louis to play at our house. Could we get Seattle or St. Louis to embarrass NO then we beat Seattle or St. Louis?

Falcon for Life (Cowboy hater since the 1980 playoffs)

December 31st, 2010
8:13 am

The Monday night game meant more to NO than it did to us. They needed a win to get in and we are already in. We just need to take care of business on Sunday. Besides, I personally like our chances of beating the World Champs twice verses three times… We’ll be fine; our defense showed us that on Monday night. At worse will make the NFC Championship game.

Greene Hornets

December 31st, 2010
8:25 am

I’m not going to crap on the Falcons for the N.O., but I do understand where everyone is coming from who is upset with it. To be great, a good Falcons team needs to beat good teams and N.O. was a good and finally healthy team going into Monday night’s game. What I take away from it, though, is if the Falcons got exposed then the Falcons organization sees what it needs to fix before going into the playoffs. I’m not saying I’m glad they lost, but I would rather for them to see where they need to improve and get it fixed than beating everyone, thinking they are awesome and get smoked in the playoffs. Sometimes being humbled brings about excellence in the future.

I don’t know if the Falcons will make it to the Super Bowl, but I tell you as one of the 71,000 “12th Man” in the stands in GA Dome when the playoff come to Atlanta, I will “Rise Up” to make it difficult for the opposing team to operate. I just hope the Falcons will “Rise Up” on the field and bring the Super Bowl Trophy to it’s new Southerm home on Peachtree St!

Greene Hornet

December 31st, 2010
8:32 am

I know I had some grammatical errors, but cut me some slack, it’s early for me…

Mr. Cool

December 31st, 2010
8:32 am

Some people are saying they were out coached, but I wonder why did the ref. move that ball closer to the first down in the fourth when NO was one yard short?

Will Mike Smith’s Coaching Staff have a execellent game plan and the guys motivated or will the team fall on their face again?


December 31st, 2010
8:32 am

Haven’t been a falcon fan as long as some of you…only since early 90s. But I love my Birds. I know a good bit about football for a woman and I’m asking some of you men for some help. Why does it seem like the Birds struggle so much? I watch other teams and their wins seem so effortless but our Birds have to fight so hard for each W (except against AZ). Any thoughtful insight would be appreciated.

Mr. Cool

December 31st, 2010
8:41 am

Will MS’s Coaching Staff motivate the team and produce an excellent game plan? Sunday will give us our answer because Carolina will be ready to play.


December 31st, 2010
8:45 am

We should win this game Sunday and I believe we will but it can not be overlooked that any team can beat another if they’re not prepared. There is no reason to think the Falcons wont be prepared and the Panthers would love to spoil our chance at home field. The Falcons had a great season this year even with some conservative offensive play along with strong efforts at going for yards on fourth down there is no team they should be feared of exspecially if the defense play like they did on Monday night minus the missed sacks they could have had. Long as we play smart and not stubborn by trying to run something that’s not working and make adjustments to what the other team is giving us we can make it to Super Bowl 45 and win it.

BirdFan Lifer

December 31st, 2010
8:47 am

All I have to say is Mike please get em ready. really ready! Look at the Eagles Tuesday never forget this is still pro football and Fox is playing his last game. Expect everything.


December 31st, 2010
8:48 am

Our beloved Birds WILL secure the top seed in the conference after they spank the Kitty Cats this Sunday, no worries.gentlemen. And I will be there. Fifty yard line, home side, lower level, row 33 (i believe). My first Falcons game and I am ready to celebrate!!!


December 31st, 2010
8:58 am


The Falcons strugglles can be related directly with some of their conservative play on offense. Unfortunatley when we get a lead the Falcons go into safety mode by trying to do things other than what got them the lead. We stubbornly try to run Mike Turner up the middle when he has no where to go rather than letting Matt Ryan spread the offense to retain the ball and keep scoring the defense have a few flaws as well but most times than not they seem to make the correct adjustments while the offense doesn’t.


December 31st, 2010
9:17 am