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NFL Playoff Scenarios: 6 Ways the Atlanta Falcons Can Win the NFC South

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2010

NFL Playoff Scenarios: 6 Ways the Atlanta Falcons Can Win the NFC South

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons will be in the playoffs. When the New York Giants spectacularly lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, that was assured.

    Now at 12-2, the Falcons are in the postseason, but are not yet division winners.

    There are six possible ways for Atlanta to win the NFC South, and only one way they could not take the division. That will be discussed later.

    Without wasting too much more time, let's get into how Atlanta can win their division in the next two weeks.

    First, though, let's look back at Week 15 and what's ahead for the Falcons.

Week 15: Falcons Beat Seattle, New Orleans Loses To Baltimore

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    Week 15 saw the Falcons beat the Seahawks in convincing fashion, 34-18.

    Earlier in the day, New Orleans fell to Baltimore, 30-24, giving Atlanta some breathing room in the division.

    As said before, the Giants loss to the Eagles automatically put the Falcons in the playoffs, but it was still nice to go out and win later in the day.

Week 16: Falcons Host New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football

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    Next week, the Falcons will host New Orleans in what will be the last Monday Night game of the season.

    The overall meaning of the game was brought down a bit when the Saints lost to the Ravens, but it will still be a good game between division rivals who always seem to play close contests.

    What better way to clinch the division could there be for the Falcons than to beat the Saints?

Week 17: Falcons Close Out Season at Home Against Carolina Panthers

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    Atlanta beat the Panthers in Carolina in Week 14, 31-10.

    The score was not close, but the game had a strange feel to it as Carolina was able to gash the Atlanta defense on the ground.

    Carolina finally won another game this weekend and will be looking to end their season on a high note Week 17 in Atlanta.

    Okay, I can tell you're ready for it, so on to how the Falcons can clinch the NFC South.

1. Beat New Orleans

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    The simplest way to wrap this thing up is to beat the Saints next Monday.

    The Falcons are 6-0 at home this season and beat New Orleans in Week 3, 27-24.

    They will be favored in next week's game.

2. Tie With New Orleans

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    All the Falcons really have to do to be division champs next week is not lose.

    Even if all they do is tie the Saints, New Orleans will have no chance to take back their crown regardless of what happens in the final week of the season.

3. Lose To New Orleans, Beat Carolina

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    Even if Atlanta loses to the Saints, they can make amends by beating Carolina in Week 17.

    As you have probably realized by now, the Falcons have put themselves in superb position with their play this season.

    New Orleans, on the other hand, has dug themselves quite a hole.

4. Lose To New Orleans, Tie With Carolina

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    So let's just say that the Falcons lose to New Orleans and can't beat the Panthers at home.

    As long as they tie with Carolina in that situation, the Falcons will win the division. This is because the Falcons, who would be 12-3-1, even if the Saints beat Tampa in Week 17, would still have one less loss than New Orleans, who would end up 12-4.

5. Lose To New Orleans, Lose To Carolina, New Orleans Loses To Tampa Bay

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    This is just getting ridiculous.

    If the Falcons lose to New Orleans, then somehow go out and lose to Carolina, the Saints will still need to beat Tampa Bay to take the lead away from Atlanta.

    The Bucs have struggled mightily against winning teams this year, but who knows how they would react to that situation.

    It's been a crazy season. Perhaps the insanity will continue into Week 17.

6. Lose to New Orleans, Lose To Carolina, New Orleans Ties With Tampa Bay

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    This has to be the most convoluted of them all.

    If Atlanta managed to drop their next two games, which are at home, they could still be bailed out by a tie between New Orleans and Tampa Bay in the last week of the season.

    It's not even a hole the Saints have put themselves in. They may as well be stranded in the Grand Canyon.

How Can They Not Win The Division?

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    Yes, there is one possible way that the Falcons could lose their division lead.

    If they lose to New Orleans, lose to Carolina and the Saints beat Tampa Bay, the Falcons would end up in second place, looking up at the Saints.

    It seems unlikely, but it's football. Anything can happen.

    The best way to ensure that this does not happen is to beat New Orleans next week. If they don't do that, just beat Carolina.

    If the Falcons can win just one of their next two games, they will be NFC South champs and will have the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

    Who would have thought after the 2007 season, that in just three years, this is where we'd be?

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