NFC playoffs picture: Falcons close, but on outside looking in

January 13, 2018 Philadelphia: Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills defends against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones breaking up a pass to the endzone during the first half in their NFC Divisional Game on Saturday, January 13, 2018, in Philadelphia.    Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

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January 13, 2018 Philadelphia: Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills defends against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones breaking up a pass to the endzone during the first half in their NFC Divisional Game on Saturday, January 13, 2018, in Philadelphia. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The NFC playoff race likely will go down to the final week of the season.

Green Bay (10-3), Tampa Bay (10-3) Arizona (10-3) and Dallas (9-4) are the top four seeds heading into Week 15 games Sunday.

There are seven playoff berths, and the Rams (9-4), San Francisco (7-6) and the Washington Football Team (6-7) currently hold those spots.

Minnesota (6-7), Philadelphia (6-7), the Falcons (6-7) and New Orleans (6-7) hold the eight through 11th spots.

The Falcons are ahead of the Saints because they defeated them Nov. 7.

The group of 6-7 teams are trailed by Carolina (5-8), Seattle (5-8), New York Giants (4-9) and Chicago (4-9).

Detroit, which is 1-11-1, has been mathematically eliminated.

The Falcons need to beat the 49ers on Sunday to secure the tiebreaker if both teams finish with the same record.

The Falcons have a 12% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. With a win, the Falcons chances improve to 42%. A loss and they dropped down to a 2% probability of making the playoffs.

The Falcons have lost to two teams – Philadelphia and Washington – who they are tied with and don’t have the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“We understand the position we’re in, but we also know, you can’t control the next three games,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “It’s really just about taking care of business this week. Extending our opportunity to be relevant.”

The Falcons have not been to the playoffs since the 2017 season, when they lost to the Eagles in the divisional round. The Falcons are coming off a 4-12 season in which general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn were fired.

“It’s fun to be at this time of the year, to be in games that matter,” said Ryan, who took the Falcons to Super Bowl LI in the 2016 season. “Games that have consequences, and I’m excited for that opportunity.”

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