2023 was supposed to be the year the Atlanta Falcons took that next step to the playoffs under head coach Arthur Smith. After 10 games, the team is third in the NFC South with a 4-6 record and doesn’t have a clear starting quarterback.
Despite all of this, the playoffs are still very much on the table for Atlanta. With seven games remaining, including two games against the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, the Falcons control their own destiny.
Plus, there’s not a single opponent left on the schedule that currently has a winning record (as of Week 10). So, can Atlanta overcome its current three-game losing streak and make a run to the postseason?
ESPN released a feature looking at each team’s playoff odds going into Week 11. The teams were placed into one of eight tiers. The Falcons landed in Tier No. 6, or the “on the fringes of hope and despair” tier:
The offense hasn’t been cutting it. Desmond Ridder ranked 25th in QBR before coach Arthur Smith finally switched to Taylor Heinicke. There’s little reason to believe Heinicke is a better option — he would have ranked 25th in QBR last season had he qualified.
There is one major factor working in the Falcons’ favor: the schedule. Not only have they played the league’s easiest schedule entering Week 10, per FPI, but they have the easiest one remaining. That might be enough to nab the 7-seed in the NFC. — Seth Walder, ESPN
According to ESPN’s data, the Falcons have a 25 percent chance of making the postseason and a 22 percent chance of winning the NFC South. Head coach Arthur Smith‘s fate will likely come down to how the team performs against the Saints.
Atlanta heads to New Orleans in Week 12 before finishing the season against the Saints at home in Week 18.