Poll time: Who’s your preference as Falcons’ opponent?

Tony Romo and Matt Ryan could be headed for a playoff match-up. (AP photo)

Tony Romo and Matt Ryan could be headed for a playoff match-up. (AP photo)

A year ago, with two games left in the season, we asked a simple question: Which team would you rather see the Falcons face in their first game of the NFL playoffs – Green Bay or New Orleans? About 1,500 votes later, the Packers were a landslide pick by a two-to-one margin.

Oops.

So here we are again. The Falcons will not be the NFC’s No. 1 seed this year. Assuming they make the playoffs, they probably will be the No. 5 seed (wild card team with the best record). That would match them against the No. 4 seed (division winner with the fourth-best record), which will be the East Division champion.

Here are the current playoff standings in the NFC:

1. Green Bay (13-1, North). Bye.

2. New Orleans (11-3, South). Bye.

3.  San Francisco (10-3, West).

4. Dallas (8-6, East).

5. Atlanta (9-5, wildcard-1).

6. Detroit (9-5, wildcard-2).

Currently out: Seattle (7-7, wild card), Chicago (7-7, wild card), N.Y. Giants (7-7, East), Arizona (7-7, wild card), Philadelphia (6-8, East).

Here are possible teams they could meet in the first round, in order of probability:

Which team would you rather see Falcons face in playoffs?

View Results

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Dallas (8-6, East): The Cowboys would be the Falcons’ opponent if the playoffs opened today. The Cowboys have the No. 6 offense in the league (yards and scoring), but, like the Falcons, their pass defense is suspect. So it probably would be a high-scoring game. (The Cowboys won the last meeting, 37-21, in 2009.)

• New York Giants (7-7, East): Notwithstanding that the Giants are only four years removed from a Super Bowl, they’re fizzling now — 1-5 since a 6-2 start. Similar to Dallas, they have fallen apart defensively and Eli Manning threw three interceptions in a 23-10 loss to Washington (5-9) on Sunday. It’s New York, on the road and in the cold. But the Falcons would take this match-up. (The Giants won the last meeting, 34-31, in overtime in 2009.)

• New Orleans (11-3, South): The Saints would have to drop back into the No. 3 seed and the Falcons to the sixth seed for this to happen. Falcons-Saints games generally are unpredictable and, of  late, high scoring. New Orleans’ defense has issues, but the way Drew Brees is playing right now, it’s not a good match-up. (The Saints won the last meeting, 26-23, in overtime this season.)

• San Francisco (10-3, West): This game only happens if the 49ers remain in the three seed and the Falcons drop to the sixth seed. Despite the long trip, it would be a good match-up for the Falcons because the 49ers’ offensive strength (running) is the Falcons’ defensive strength. (The Falcons won the last meeting, 16-13, in 2010.)

• Philadelphia (6-8, East): By the longest of shots, the Eagles can still make the playoffs. To win the East (via tiebreakers), Philly would need to win its last two games (at Dallas, home against Washington), have Dallas lose its last two games (Philadelphia, at N.Y. Giants) and the Giants lose to the Jets but beat Dallas. Is it likely to happen? No. But if the Eagles get in, they would be a scary team to face. (The Falcons won the last meeting, 35-31, this season.)

Because the Giants and Cowboys are the two most plausible opponents, I’m listing only those two in the poll. But you’re certainly welcome to comment on any of the possibilities.

And let’s try to be right this time.

By Jeff Schultz

289 comments Add your comment

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JF Steele

December 19th, 2011
9:56 am

Anyone from the East over NO or SF any day.

phar71

December 19th, 2011
10:01 am

Dallas to keep us in a dome.

HA!

December 19th, 2011
10:02 am

I don’t think the Falcons have much of a chance against Dallas or New York. They’re too streaky of a road team to do any damage in the playoffs. One and done yet again for the Dirty Birds.

MattRyansBrain

December 19th, 2011
10:08 am

Falcons4Eva

December 19th, 2011
10:09 am

I’d rather play Dallas. No disrespect of the Giants. But Dallas the winning streak Dallas went on were against a few cup caps.

HA!

December 19th, 2011
10:13 am

Falcons4Eva and we’ve beat whom exactly? The only team with a winning record that we’ve beat is a Detroit Lions team that will be out of the playoffs in the first rd just like the Falcons. The Saints will beat the Falcons Monday Night just like they do every other MNF game. Payton and Brees will be 10-2 against the Falcons. Pathetic!

Mr.Phil

December 19th, 2011
10:16 am

Excuse me but the Falcons pass defense is not suspect. We are ranked 18, which by the way is better than Dallas.

HA!

December 19th, 2011
10:17 am

We’ll see just how good that pass defense is on Monday night. Brees is 304 yards shy of breaking Marino’s record and I say he gets that and some fairly easy against the Falcons.

Falcons4Eva

December 19th, 2011
10:23 am

I’d take my chances versus the 49er’s. They’re offense does not poise a real challenge for us defensively because they (the 49er’s) rely on the strength of their offense (the running game) with is the strength of our defense. So those two would cancel each other out. Which I like our offense chances versus their defense.

extremus

December 19th, 2011
10:25 am

It really doesn’t matter as long as A) the Falcons ARE in the playoffs and B) they WIN.

Uuuuuugh...

December 19th, 2011
10:25 am

I vote Dallas. They have Tony Romo…and every game Tony Romo is as likely to turn in a good performance, as he is to play like Aaron Brooks. I am hoping for the latter.

Frank Lane

December 19th, 2011
10:27 am

Auburn would be a nice first round match up. The Falcons could win.

wut

December 19th, 2011
10:29 am

HA! is a Vick apologist. ;)

The Real Falcon

December 19th, 2011
10:32 am

Payback to Dalls would be sweet! For 1980

dean

December 19th, 2011
10:33 am

Cowboys for me. Payback is in order.

BullDogMike

December 19th, 2011
10:33 am

Does it really matter all that much ? Sooner or later they will have to face Packers again..The birds just do not match up well vs. GB. Especially Falcon defense against their offense.

HA!

December 19th, 2011
10:37 am

No wut, I’m not a Vick apologist. I just see this team as the fraud that they are.

trademark

December 19th, 2011
10:37 am

hmmmm…OK Troll, seem to remember Brees putting up a lot of YARDS in that first game against us…didn’t really translate into a lot of points (23 in regulation)….I think, yep, I’m POSITIVE, I’ll take that again. Let bree get his yards, about the same points, but it’s a very different BEAST N.O’s is going to have to deal with in the Atlanta Offense next week. We aren’t going to be dropping game winners this time around, guys, your voodoo dolls are all outta holes.

Bob from Marketing

December 19th, 2011
10:39 am

Falcons have a tough time vs mobile QBs, so that eliminates Philly and Dallas. They also struggle against 3-4 defenses, so that eliminates the Niners (and Cowboys again). The Saints are familiar, but Brees just seems to have our number. Giants run defense is terrible and Eli doesn’t play as well at home.

So in order of preference, I’ll say:

1.Giants, 2.Saints, 3.Niners, 4.Cowboys, 5.Eagles.

trademark

December 19th, 2011
10:41 am

…and to the article, either Dallas or New York is fine, their D’s are ATROCIOUS. I hate to say this, cause I’m usually uncannily right about stuff like this (example: three weeks ago I posted that Green Ba would fade down the stretch and lose to somebody by surprise), but I would HATE to see Philly in there. If those jacka$%es somehow make the playoffs, they are one of those “playing on borrowed time” teams that seem to go on demonic runs because of their never-say-die attitude. IF we do end up against them somewhere, we have got to FOCUS and out-HUNGER them or it’ll be ugly.

wut

December 19th, 2011
10:42 am

HA! Oh come on, just admit it. You probably turned your back on this team when they got rid of Vick so now you come on the AJC site to trash the Falcons and if Philly ever succeeds, you will come on here to brag, even though most fans with sense have moved on and wish both sides well.

KennesawFAN

December 19th, 2011
10:44 am

How about we win out, the saints lose out, and play detroit as a third seed. That seems like the best match-up to me.

Rick

December 19th, 2011
10:47 am

Giants. The Falcons always have trouble against those 3-4 defenses.

Samuel

December 19th, 2011
10:51 am

If the Falcons continue to play well, I don’t think it matters who they play.

Mark

December 19th, 2011
10:53 am

Dallas only because it would keep us in a dome, but on the other hand I think we could handle the Giants better. The Giants would give us a playoff game in the cold weather, and help prepare us better for a rematch with Green Bay, which would also be in frigid temperatures. Philly is kinda scary if they get in because they would have nothing to lose. I think they would be like Seattle of last year though. Maybe win a game, but get knocked out NLT the second round. I really think that ATL is looking good right now. I fear a loss to the Saints may ruin our momentum, so we gotta come out big against them on Monday. GO BIRDS!!!

Finchdawg

December 19th, 2011
11:12 am

Jeff, I think chances are very good that the 49ers stay in the 3rd seed. For us to move to the 6th seed, the Lions would have to win both of their games and the Falcons would have to lose to the Saints. If the Packers decide to sit their starters the last week against the Lions since a perfect season is out of reach, I would not think a Falcons-49ers matchup would be such a stretch. Based on how SanFran has played of late, I wouldn’t mind that so much.

BikerDudeBravesFan

December 19th, 2011
11:16 am

Why have the falcons not clinched a wildcard spot at this point? Closest team is 7-7 and we already have conference records over them…

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December 19th, 2011
11:16 am

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Tony Montana

December 19th, 2011
11:19 am

Doesnt matter who we play we’ll crush those cockaroaches…..

TBALL

December 19th, 2011
11:19 am

It don’t matter, Matty gets his first playoff win!!

FALCON RISE UP!!!!

SirReal

December 19th, 2011
11:22 am

Dallas is best for us. They pretty much mirror us in many ways. Suspect Pass defense, a QB that can make or break the game, they’ve lost games they should have won just like we have. They have great players on offense like us. It would be the most favorable match up. I think we could beat Eli too if it came down to that. We DONT wanna see the Aints or Pack first round. Anyone else is quite favorable.

CT Falcons Fan

December 19th, 2011
11:23 am

I love all these articles that have San Fran 3rd. Last time I checked, the NFL week ended after the Monday night game. If San Fran wins, they would be the 2 seed, not NO. BikerDude, when there are more than two teams tied for a playoffspot, the first tie breaker is conference record (which you noted) and ATL is 6-4, so is Seattle and Chicago and Detriot only a 1/2 game back at 6-5. So we actually do not have tiebreakers over those teams (at present) in a multi-team scenario.

Tony Montana

December 19th, 2011
11:25 am

Enter your comments here

Mike

December 19th, 2011
11:26 am

Anyone says Cowboys needs to look back on recent history. The Falcons match up far better with the Giants. As recently as 2009, this Cowboys team torched the Falcons in Dallas which is where we would have to play them. The Falcons played the Giants in NY and lost in OT. The Falcons’ pass rush is not good enough to pressure Romo consistently. He looks like Aaron Rodgers against our defense.

take it from me.

December 19th, 2011
11:27 am

Don’t matter to me,but we gotta get there first,and theres no garrenty we make it!

realitycheck

December 19th, 2011
11:27 am

Two wins against teams with winning records………playoff teams all will have winning records…..no home playoff games……absolutely no reason at all for any realistic optimism!

bjohndawg

December 19th, 2011
11:29 am

Trent

December 19th, 2011
11:33 am

I want the Saints. The Falcons always play the Saints so close since Ryan and Smith have been here. It could literally go either way. Why do people act like the talent gap is SO WIDE? That game a month ago could have gone either way EASILY. My goodness WAKE UP people.

bfred

December 19th, 2011
11:35 am

BikerDude, if we wind up 9-7 then the we would be ahead of the teams we beat head-to-head (Seahawks, Lions) but the loss to the Bears could knock us down a notch. After that it’s conference record (Falcons 6-4) and record against common opponents, so I’m sure there are several scenarios where other 9-7 teams could come out ahead. One more win and this is a moot point; all the current seven-loss teams would be done (against the Falcons, anyway – could still get the 6 seed).

Bobby Walden

December 19th, 2011
11:35 am

The sorry ATL franchise will be 1 & done no matter who they play. Just like last year. Difference is they won’t have the magical hometown support. You know, the ‘fans” who left in droves in the 3rd quarter. You know, the soft ATL yuppies who can’t stand to be cold outside. they should call that wreck in which buzzards circle: the pussi-dome.

take it from me.

December 19th, 2011
11:37 am

IF we make the playoffs ,the cowboys will make the better match up.i had rather face Toney Romo than Eli Manning in a playoff game.

CT Falcons Fan

December 19th, 2011
11:38 am

Bobby Walden, I really don’t think you need a colon after “circle” in your last post.

5150 UOAD

December 19th, 2011
11:39 am

Jeff I bet you could wait 2 weeks and we would know who we are playing. Sorry but I am not looking for a guess on who I want to play.
because of “CHOKE” the blogger I want to play & Kill MV7.
because of all the Katrina trash in the ATL posting here I want to play and Kill the Saints.

anonymous

December 19th, 2011
11:46 am

I say Falcons fans should hope they don’t face Philadelphia in the first round.
After that, I think the Giants in the playoffs at home will have much better composure than Atlanta would.
So the best team for Atlanta to play would be Dallas. The Cowboys should have lost to Miami on Thanksgiving for heaven’s sake. I think the Falcons would find their game in the Dome over there.

I’m only considering the NFC East teams still in contention.

take it from me.

December 19th, 2011
11:46 am

I don’t know about everybody else,but i’m tired of loseing to the Ant’s!

Andy

December 19th, 2011
11:50 am

Either Giants of Cowboys would be ok with me. I think the Falcons would be favored against either. The Falcons need a playoff win under the Smith-Ryan regime. This year looks promising.

john

December 19th, 2011
11:50 am

First off there is plenty of reason to be optimistic. Falcons WILL run the table. saints will lose monday and i really hope we get to play gb and no in the playoffs just to shut up all the bs people spout. You know matt ryan has beaten brees and rodgers just as often as theyve beaten the him and aside from 1 playoff nightmare the games are always close. falcons are on the verge of really breaking out and how sweet it will be to watch all the crap slingers put in their place.

ghostwriter

December 19th, 2011
11:51 am

I’d like to face Dallas, New York, or San Francisco in that order. I think we are better than anyone in the East, just look at our record. Those two teams are faltering, and while still good, I think we got ‘em. As for San Francisco, I like how we match-up against them. We can stop their run and take advantage of Alex Smith’s mistakes.

Seriously!!!

December 19th, 2011
11:54 am

Hey- take it from me…you got spell check??