After a divisional loss to the Saints on Thanksgiving night, the Falcons’ playoff picture is bleak as the team returned to practice on Monday.
The Falcons (4-7) are the 11th seed in the NFC with playoff chances between 2.4 percent and 4 percent with five games to play. The Falcons host the Ravens (6-5) at 1 p.m Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“We’re go to move on,” cornerback Robert Alford said. “This team that we have here, we have a great group of guys here. We never hold our heads down. As long as there is still ball to play, we are going to battle.”
The Falcons are contemplating some changes along the offensive line.
“We’ll work through some things this week, but I’ll have no announcements regarding a lineup potential change or not,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.
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After the loss to the Saints, Quinn acknowledged that the Falcons were considering using Zane Beadles and/or Ty Sambrailo along the offensive line.
Against the Saints, quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked six times and hit 13 times. The rushing attack was held to 26 yards on 16 carries for a paltry 1.6 yards per carry average.
Beadles, 32, was signed after right guard Brandon Fusco suffered a broken ankle. He said he’s ready to start if needed.
“Absolutely,” Beadles said when asked if he’s ready to start. “I’m excited for an opportunity.”
Also, linebacker Deion Jones could return to the defensive line up against the Ravens. He has not played since the season-opener. He’s been on the roster, but was inactive for the past two games.
“It was an excellent (day) for him,” Quinn said of his Monday practice. “His speed. That explosion. That’s Deion. I’m very encouraged by what it looked like today. As the reps get bigger during the week, I think we’ll have a better assessment by Thursday. The first signs this week, I thought were excellent.”
Only the top six teams make the NFC playoffs. The Falcons, who were the only NFC team to return to the playoffs last season, are officially long shots to make a third consecutive trip to the playoffs.
The Falcons have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons just once in franchise history, from 2010 to 2012 under former head coach Mike Smith.
“We’re not looking at the big picture too much,” defensive end Brooks Reed said. “We are all focused week to week in this building. We have to play as if we are playing for a championship.”
The NFC division leaders are the Saints (10-1) in the South, Rams (10-1) in the West, Cowboys (6-5) in the East and Bears (8-3) in the North. The Vikings (6-4-1) and Redskins (6-5) would be the wild card qualifiers.
The Seahawks (6-5), Panthers (6-5), Eagles (5-6) and Packers (4-6-1) are ahead of the Falcons. The Falcons have the head-to-head tie breaker over Carolina, but not Philadelphia. The Falcons play at Green Bay on Dec. 9.
The Falcons do not play the Seahawks this season.
There is speculation generated by computers that simulate all games remaining to be played.
The New York Times’ NFL Playoff Machine pegs the Falcons’ playoff chances at 3 percent.
Football Outsiders gives Atlanta a 2.4 percent chance to earn the last wild card.
At Playoff Status, the computer gives Atlanta a 3 percent chance to earn the second wild card.
FiveThirtyEight says the Falcons have a 4 percent shot at making the playoffs via wild card.
If the Falcons can win the five remaining games to finish 9-7, chances are pretty good they’ll be right in the mix for one of the wild card spots because their competitors have stiff schedules remaining.
Current seventh seed Seahawks’ remaining slate: San Francisco, Minnesota, at San Francisco, Kansas City, Arizona.
Eighth seed Panthers: at Tampa Bay, at Cleveland, New Orleans, Atlanta, at New Orleans.
Ninth seed Eagles: Washington, at Dallas, at L.A. Rams, Houston and at Washington.
10th seed Packers: Arizona, Atlanta, at Chicago, at N.Y. Jets, Detroit.
The Buccaneers and the Lions are also 4-7.
“Basically we are just owning now,” defensive tackle Deadrin Senat said. “All we can control is right now. We can’t live in the past. We can’t think about the future. We can control this one game, this one practice that we just had.”