FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons wide receiver Roddy White doesn't beat around the bush.
As far as the Pro Bowl receiver is concerned, the playoffs start when the Falcons host Tampa Bay at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.
"We are in the playoffs right now," White said.
The Falcons are 5-5 with six games to play. If the playoffs started today, they would be on the outside looking in.
White has figured that the Falcons need to run the table to make a second consecutive trip to the playoffs.
"Win them all," White said. "We have to win. We can't have [any] more set backs. It's a six-game end-of-the-year deal.
"We have to go out there and win six games. If we go out there and win six games, we'll control our own destiny."
With Sunday's excruciating 34-31 overtime loss to the New York Giants, the Falcons dropped to .500 for the first time since the fourth game of last season.
"It doesn't feel good to be .500," right tackle Tyson Clabo said. "My middle school football coach told us one time that it's like kissing your sister. We just need to win some games and nobody will remember we were .500."
The Falcons are five games behind the New Orleans Saints (10-0) in an uncompetitive NFC South division race. Minnesota (9-1) is similarly attempting to run away with the NFC North.
The Falcons, as it stands now, will be battling Arizona (7-3), Dallas (7-3), New York (6-4), Philadelphia (6-4) and Green Bay (6-4) for the two wild card berths. Dallas and New York own the head-to-head tie-breakers over the Falcons.
The Falcons are just one game head of Carolina (4-6), Chicago (4-6) and San Francisco (4-6). But the Falcons hold head-to-head advantages over Chicago and San Francisco and split their two games this season with Carolina.
"Coach has a slogan: ‘You get what you earn in this league,' " White said, and the way he sees things, the Falcons haven't been earning much.
"We are not playing well enough to win games at the end," White said. "We just have to go in there and get back at home. The crowd will be pumped up in the Georgia Dome and get us some wins."
Over their last seven games, the Falcons have played four opponents coming off their bye weeks. They were 3-4 over that stretch, including dropping four of their last five.
"I feel as if we have to be more consistent," White said. "We weren't consistent enough. ... We are digging ourselves holes."
At the Dome, where the Falcons play their next three games, the team is 4-0 this season.
"I don't think we really care about what our schedule was or what it is coming up," Clabo said. "What we care about is who we play this week and getting a win. That's the only thing we are thinking about. We are not worried about anything else."
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