Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: Falcons have a 93.6 percent chance to make playoffs

Good morning! The Cover 9@9 is a weekly blog of everything you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons, we published 9 items at 9 a.m. each Wednesday morning.

1. PLAYOFF PERCENTAGES: The Falcons have a 93.6% chance of making the playoffs and need to win 1 of 2 games to virtually clinch a playoff berth, according to our good friends over at, which calculates the chances each NFL team will make the playoffs. 

 The website is in its ninth year providing statistics on each team's chance of making the NFL playoffs. The information is updated after each game.


In the NFC, Dallas and Seattle have clinched playoff berths.

The Giants (99.8% chance of making the playoffs) need to win one of their 2 remaining games to clinch a playoff berth. The Falcons (93.67%) Lions (81.7%) and Packers (51.6%) still controlling their own destiny. 

In the AFC, the Patriots and Raiders have clinched a berth.   The Browns were eliminated after week 11. The Jets and Jaguars were eliminated after week 13. The Bengals and Chargers were eliminated after week 15.

2. HOW THE FALCONS CLINCH A PLAYOFF BERTH: Here's what has to happen for the Falcons to clinch a playoff berth:

ATLANTA FALCONS (9-5) at Carolina (6-8)

Atlanta clinches NFC South division title with:

  1. ATL win + TB loss or tie OR
  2. ATL tie + TB loss

Atlanta clinches a playoff berth with:

  1. ATL win + ATL clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET OR
  2. ATL win or tie + GB loss or tie OR
  3. ATL win + DET loss or tie OR
  4. ATL tie + DET tie OR
  5. WAS loss or tie + GB loss OR
  6. WAS loss or tie + GB tie + DET loss

3. INJURY REPORT: Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones (toe) and starting cornerback Jalen Collins (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday.

The Falcons had a light session in preparation for Saturday’s game at the Panthers. Jones didn’t do much during the portion of the practice open to media while Collins was jumping and catching the ball during defensive back drills.

Jones missed the past two games after suffering the injury against the Chiefs. Coach Dan Quinn said Jones would test the toe during Wednesday’s full-speed practice and, if all goes well, increase his reps for the final practice of the week on Thursday.

Collins didn’t play against the 49ers on Sunday after his injury forced him to leave the Rams game the previous week.

Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (concussion) was not at Tuesday’s practice. He will have to will have to meet the requirements of the NFL’s concussion protocol before he is allowed to return to full football activities. Campbell suffered the concussion against the 49ers and it’s rare for a player to be cleared for the next game in his circumstance.

The Falcons will release their first official injury report for the week on Wednesday.

4. PRO BOWLERS PICKED: The Pro, the NFL’s gloried flag-football All-Star game will be held Jan. 29 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, the week before the Super Bowl.

While six Falcons were selected, they have no plans, at this time to play in the game.

Voters placed quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman, center Alex Mack, linebacker Vic Beasley and kicker Matt Bryant into the Pro Bowl.

The six Falcons selections were the most among NFC teams. It’s the most Pro Bowl selections for the Falcons since six players were named to the all-star team for the 2010 season. NFL players, coaches and fans each make up one-third of the Pro Bowl vote.

Ryan, Jones and Mack each earned their fourth career Pro Bowl nod. Freeman is on the team for the second consecutive season. Beasley earned his first Pro Bowl selection in his second pro season and Bryant received the honor for the first time in 16 years.

“Although it’s an individual honor, I do feel a sense of pride for the unit that they’re in, knowing that this player didn’t do that by himself and that’s one of the coolest parts about our game,” Quinn said. “For the guys who do get nominated and who are rewarded for that, it’s a real sign to your brothers and your teammates. ‘Hey man, I really appreciate all the work you put in too that allowed me to have this opportunity.’”

In 2016, Freeman, fullback Patrick DiMarco, wide receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Desmond Trufant all participated in the Pro Bowl.

5. REVIEW OF GAME ONE: The Falcons defeated the Panthers 48-33 in a game that was a one-score affair with 1:53 to play on Oct. 2 at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons opened a 34-10 lead, but could close out the Panthers until cornerback Robert Alford returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 to play.

Here's the REPORT CARD from Game One vs. Carolina. 

6. STOPPING OLSEN: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s favorite target.

Olsen caught six of 13 targets for 76 yards and one touchdown against the Falcons.

He has 71 catches for 992 yards as he’s trying to post his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

“Greg’s a terrific player and somebody that warrants match-ups and warrants talking about those kind of things,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said on Tuesday. “When you play man to man, who do you feature on him and how do you play? We count on Keanu Neal a lot when we do a good bit of that but not all the time and then when you play your zones you better have awareness for where Greg is at.”

7. JONES' 300-YARD GAME: In the first meeting, Jones caught 12 of 15 targets for 300 yards receiving and one touchdown.

8. TALE OF THE TAPE: 2016 Regular Season Statistics Rankings

9. DEPTH CHART: The Falcons signed safety Dashon Goldson to the 53-man roster on Tuesday, after waiving wide receiver J.D. McKissic on Monday.

The Falcons signed veteran wide receiver B.J. Daniels to the practice squad.

The Falcons also worked out safety Earl Wolff (North Carolina State) and safety Floyd Raven (Texas A&M).

With Kemal Ishamel (shoulder) on injured reserve, the Falcons didn't have a back up strong safety behind Keanu Neal.

The Falcons (9-5) are set to face the Panthers (6-8) at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

(The team calls it an ‘unofficial’ depth chart. But if they are releasing it, for our purposes that makes it pretty official.)


WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 15 Nick Williams, 14 Eric Weems

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland

C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland

RG 65 Chris Chester, 71 Wes Schweitzer

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 76 Tom Compton

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 80 Levine Toilolo, 82 Joshua Perkins

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Taylor Gabriel, 19 Aldrick Robinson

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 50 Brooks Reed, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 93 Dwight Freeney

DT 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 91 Courtney Upshaw

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 54 Malliciah Goodman

LB 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 41 Philip Wheeler

LB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 LaRoy Reynolds

LB 59 De’Vondre Campbell

CB 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 38 Blidi Wreh-Wilson

CB 32 Jalen Collins, 34 Brian Poole, 30 Deji Olatoye

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neasman

S 22 Keanu Neal, 38 Dashon Goldson


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy

PR 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

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The AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter & Noah Coslov chat about Julio Jones' status, what makes this Falcons team different than years past & the teams that Falcons don't want to see in the playoffs.

GAME 14: Falcons 41, 49ers 13

5 things we learned from the Falcons' win over the 49ers

What Matt Ryan had to say about the win over the 49ers

PHOTOS: Falcons win over the 49ers

GAME 13: Falcons 42, Rams 14

REPORT CARD: Falcons handled their business against woeful Rams

GAME 12: Chiefs 29, Falcons 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons' loss to the Chiefs

Falcons still control their playoff destiny

PHOTOS: Falcons have a bad day at the office

Matt Ryan tormented by Berry's big interceptions

Beasley becomes a double-digit sacker

GAME 11: Falcons 38, Cardinals 19

5 things we learned from the Falcons' win over the Cardinals

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons keep getting better as they go

Julio Jones gets calls this time

Taylor Gabriel continues scoring streak in win over Cardinals

Coleman scores TD in return from injury

Falcons' offensive line 'stepped up to the task'

GAME 10: Eagles 24, Falcons 15

5 things we learned from the Falcons' loss to the Eagles

Ryan, offense slowed down to a crawl

Perkins stalls key drive with costly penalty

Defense gets blown of the line of scrimmage

Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons' biggest issue is injuries (Trufant and Tamme)

Falcons go into bye week wrong way -- beat up by Eagles

What Dan Quinn had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What Matt Ryan had to say after the loss to the Eagles

What the Falcons had to say after the loss to the Eagles

PHOTOS: Falcons fall to the Eagles

5 things we learned from the Falcons' rout of the Bucs

GAME SEVEN: Chargers 33, Falcons 30 in OT

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Chargers

Dan Quinn's gamble with house-money backfires

6 penalties 'unacceptable' for Falcons offensive line

Philip Rivers confounds Falcons with short passes: 'He picked us apart'

Matt Ryan's late-game interception leads to overtime loss

PHOTOS: Chargers rally to beat Falcons

GAME SIX: Seahawks 26, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons loss to the Seahawks

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons didn't win, but they made one guy believe (me)

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud

Matt Ryan's turnovers were costly

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Seattle slows down Falcons' running backs Freeman, Coleman

Ryan Schraeder, offensive line rebounds in second half

Julio Jones: 'It was just a missed call'

What the Falcons had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 26-24 loss to Seattle

Richard Sherman non-commital on pass interference non-call

PHOTOS: Falcons at Seahawks in Seattle

GAME FIVE: Falcons 23, Broncos 16

5 things we learned from the Falcons upset of Super Bowl champs

MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons rock a rookie in the Rockies

What Dan Quinn have to say after the win over Denver

Coleman amassed 163 yards to power the offense

Vic Beasley has breakout game with 3.5 sacks

Kemal Ishmael moved to linebacker, led team in tackles

What the Falcons had to say after the win over the Broncos

Photos: Falcons battle the Broncos

GAME FOUR: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-33 win over the Panthers

Tweetcap: Falcons 48, Panthers 33

Old pro Freeney shows new trick with Falcons

Falcons' rookie Neal holds on vs. Olsen

What Julio Jones had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 48-33 win over the Panthers

Alford battled; Collins to return

Early view in NFC South isn't what most expected; Falcons on top

GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 45-32 win over the Saints

Falcons, Saints protest with unity circle before game

REPORT CARD: Falcons earned high marks for drubbing Saints

What Dan Quinn had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What Matt Ryan had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

What the Falcons had to say after the 45-32 win over the Saints

Keanu Neal makes strong debut for Falcons

Falcons' Deion Jones runs for glory, not survival, in return home

AJC POWER RANKINGS: Falcons best in NFC South?

GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28

5 things we learned from the Falcons' win over the Raiders

Trufant's heads-up play saves the day

Tight ends help to power offense

Weatherspoon plays strong in first start since 2013

Matthews, Schraeder held Mack sack-less

JEFF SCHULTZ: Falcons put on offensive show and win

What Matt Ryan had to say after beating the Raiders

What Dan Quinn had to say after the win over the Raiders

GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24

5 things we learned from the Falcons' loss to the Bucs

No sacks for new-look Falcons pass rush

Julio Jones not worried about his ankle injury

Falcons have a case of the "no-huddle" blues

REPORT CARD: Falcons can't 'gift' opponents 17 points

FILM REVIEW: Beasley missing in action

AJC'S NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where are the Falcons?

Hageman charged is domestic violence case


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.