Think the 4-5 Falcons are out of the playoff hunt? Think again. Since 1990, seven teams that were 4-5 after nine games still made the postseason.
The Falcons will try to keep their playoff hopes alive Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Here is how past teams in the same predicament finished out the season:
• 1992 San Diego Chargers: In his first season since leaving Georgia Tech, coach Bobby Ross' team overcame an 0-4 start to reach the playoffs at 11-5. The Chargers lost in the divisional round to Miami.
• 2002 New York Jets: Quarterback Chad Pennington replaced Vinny Testaverde as the starter and the Jets won 7 of their final nine games, settling for a three-way tie for the AFC East division title with a 9-7 record. The Jets advanced to the conference round losing to the Raiders.
• 2003 Green Bay Packers: Behind quarterback Brett Favre, the Packers finished the final month of the season with four straight wins to enter the playoffs at 10-6. Green Bay's season ended infamously in Philadelphia in overtime in the Divisional round after the Eagles completed a fourth-and-26 play to extend their season.
• 2008 San Diego Chargers: San Diego went 4-0 in December, and with the help of a three-game Denver losing streak, became the second team in league history to win a division with a .500 record. The Chargers lost to Pittsburgh in the second round of the playoffs.
• 2009 New York Jets: In Rex Ryan's first season as head coach, a staunch defense regrouped to lead New York a 9-7 record and the AFC Championship game, where they fell to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
• 2011 Denver Broncos: Tim Tebow took over for Kyle Orton as starting quarterback, going 6-4. Tebow led the 8-8 Broncos to a miracle win in overtime against the Steelers in the Wild Card game. The Broncos were defeated by the top-seeded Patriots in the Divisional round.
• 2013 San Diego Chargers: The Chargers strung together four-straight wins in December to finish 9-7. After a first-round win at Cincinnati the Chargers fell to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the Divisional round.
Not a 4-5 start, but still one to note:
• 2014 Carolina Panthers: After 9 games, Carolina sat at 3-5-1. The Panthers took advantage of a weak NFC South to capture the division title and a playoff berth with a 7-8-1 record. Cam Newton led Carolina to a Wild Card win over Arizona, but Seattle proved too much in the Divisional round.
Atlanta has games remaining against division rivals Saints, Panthers and Bucs, along with matchups against the Packers, Ravens and Cardinals.
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