Last season, the Falcons were 7-5 heading into the final four games.
They had just lost a 29-28 heartbreaking to the Chiefs. Then, they would win their final four regular-season games, claim the second seed in the NFC and roll to Super Bowl LI.
Last season, the Falcons played the Rams (4-8), 49ers (1-11), Panthers (4-8) and Saints (5-7) over the final quarter of the season. The schedule (14-34, .291 winning percentage) was not very tough.
This season, the Falcons (.625) have the toughest schedule between the Seahawks (.583), Panthers (.562) and Saints (.479) based the record of their opponents.
The Falcons close out the regular season with games against the Saints (9-3) followed by at the Buccaneers (4-8) on Dec. 18, at the Saints (9-3) on Dec. 24 and versus the Panthers (8-4) on Dec. 31.
“Hopefully it can be the same for us, but every team and every year is different,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I think last week was a tough one for us. We didn’t play our best, especially on offense. I thought our defense did a great job and really gave a winning performance. We didn’t pull our weight offensively.”
The loss to Chiefs last season seemed to bring the team together before they stormed down the stretch.
“But hopefully (the loss to Minnesota) brings us together,” Ryan said. “I think this short week is a good thing, too. It’s right on to the game plan, we are on to New Orleans. I think that’s a good thing, you can flush it out of your system faster.”
The Falcons know this remaining schedule is tougher than 2016.
“Hopefully, (we can) get hot here in the month of December,” Ryan said.
According to maketheplayoffs.com, the Falcons have an 11.67 percent chance of winning the NFC South division and a 44.92 percent chance of making the playoffs if they win their remaining games.
Ryan doesn’t know if the Falcon must run the table, like last year, to reach the playoffs.
“Whatever the case maybe it doesn’t matter if we don’t take care of business on Thursday,” Ryan said. “Beyond that, I don’t really worry about all that stuff. I think sometimes if you are focused on too many things, I’m not smart enough to focus on that many things. I’m concentrating on one task at a time.”