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Falcons Playoff Hopes Bolstered By Week 12 Results

Five teams ahead of Atlanta in playoff race lost this past week

It's been said before and will be said again -- the NFL is a week-to-week league. One week, things can look like the sky is falling and the next everything falls perfectly in line.

With running back Cordarrelle Patterson accounting for more than 40 percent of the Atlanta Falcons offensive yards in their 21-14 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, things are hardly perfect for Atlanta. But as far as the results the Falcons needed around the NFC to get back into the playoff picture, they happened in Week 12.

In addition to the Falcons winning, five teams ahead of Atlanta (5-6) in the NFC wild card race lost this week. Because of those results, the Falcons moved ahead of three of them in the standings.

Here are those teams and their Week 12 results:

Los Angeles Rams (7-4): loss to Packers 36-28.

Minnesota Vikings (5-6): loss to 49ers 34-26.

New Orleans Saints (5-6): loss to Bills 31-6.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7): loss to Giants 13-7.

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Carolina Panthers (5-7): loss to Dolphins 33-10

The lone team ahead of the Falcons in the NFC wild card race that won was a San Francisco (6-5). The week can get even better for Atlanta if Washington (4-6) loses to Seattle on Monday Night Football.

The Falcons jumped the Saints, Eagles and Panthers in the NFC standings. Atlanta lost to the Eagles and Panthers, but are a half-game ahead of those teams, and have a rematch with Carolina in two weeks.

Things were looking bleak for the Falcons before Sunday, as they had lost two straight by a combined score of 68-3, the prospects for are arguably worse now for the Panthers and Saints. New Orleans has lost four in a row, including a 25-point defeat against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. 

The Panthers also fell by more than three touchdowns and can't seem to settle on a quarterback, and had their best player, Christian McCaffrey, suffered another injury on Sunday.

All of this adds up to an opportunity for the Falcons, who sit just one spot out of the playoffs heading into Monday. Atlanta plays half of its remaining six games against teams in the wild card race (Panthers, 49ers and Saints). Two of those matchups are on the road, but that might actually work in Atlanta's favor. The Falcons are 4-2 away and 0-4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta also faces the Detroit Lions the day after Christmas. If the Falcons lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills, and win the other four games, Atlanta would be 9-8. 

After what transpired in Week 12, that might be good enough for the Falcons to earn their first playoff berth since 2017.