They needed help. They got it on Sunday.
They also needed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to lose as well, and lose they did. The San Diego Chargers marched into town and dominated an already trampled defense. They left Florida with a 41-24 win which put it over the top for Atlanta.
To add to an already jumbled playoff picture, the Dallas Cowboys also managed to lose to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night. All of these outcomes helped contribute to the "perfect storm" for the Falcons, as they now look towards winning a championship.
Looking back at the preview I posted of this game several days ago, not many people voted for the Falcons to win this game. In fact, out of the 43 votes casted, nearly 75% thought that Minnesota would be victorious.
As the entire league continues to overlook and underestimate Atlanta, I will be looking forward to the Falcons making a run into the playoffs.
Matt Ryan continues to prove that he can defeat opponents with his arm. However, he has one of the best running backs in the league waiting in the backfield, Michael Turner.
I predicted Turner would have a productive day against Minnesota, and I think he produced enough to push past the top ranked rush defense. 70 yards with a touchdown isn't anything to brag about, but when it helps a team get into the playoffs, every yard counts.
I shouldn't have to tell you how much of a beast he has been this season, but I'll remind you of his numbers: 1,491 rushing yards on 351 carries with 16 touchdowns. The numbers also include seven 100-yard rushing games and his now infamous 220-yard domination over the Detroit Lions in the season opener.
Everyone knows how horrendous last year was for Atlanta, but what a difference a year can make.
Especially with a leading Rookie of the Year candidate at quarterback in Matt Ryan and a potential Coach of the Year in Mike Smith at the helm of it all.
Atlanta is now 10-5 in 2008. Not bad for a team that had preseason rankings of nearly dead last in the NFL in every statistical category.
Go Falcons, go.