Falcons remain in playoff hunt despite another tough loss

The Atlanta Falcons staying close to the NFC South picture must torment the team’s fans. Two weeks ago, they were 6-6 and alone atop the division. Following a 9-7 loss to the 1-12 Carolina Panthers, Atlanta is now 6-8 and a whole game behind the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a rainy and empty afternoon in Charlotte on Sunday, as the Falcons managed only one drive that resulted in any positive plays. They managed to gain only 204 yards on the day, and their offense did not score a point in the second half. The Panthers won after an extra-large sundae of a drive that lasted seven and a half minutes and culminated in a game-winning field goal.

For consecutive weeks, the Falcons have been pounded by a division rival. The hail mary being caught short of the end zone was funny Falcons folly, but the better team won that game. The Carolina Panthers have lost by double digits seven times this season. For the Falcons, this is the type of loss that can drive a stake into the heart of a season, but the Falcons can’t lose enough to eliminate themselves from playoff contention.

Their last regular-season games are against the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and Saints. Falcons fans should not feel confident about the team’s prospects, but the season is far from over.

For at least one more week, the Falcons will be fighting for their playoff lives. Another week in which the Falcons can drag their fans through the muck of faint postseason hope by playing in the worst division in the NFL.