Rapid Reaction: Falcons 22, Chargers 16

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

For the next week, you're going to hear a lot about the NFC South showdown between Tampa Bay and Carolina. But once again, we have to utter the phrase that seemed ridiculous back in August.

Don't forget the Atlanta Falcons.

All year long, new coach Mike Smith has talked about one game at a time. Now, it's time to break that rule and look at the big picture.

The Falcons are 8-4. Carolina and Tampa Bay are each 9-3. Atlanta's remaining games are at New Orleans on Sunday, home against Tampa Bay Dec. 14, at Minnesota on Dec. 21 and homeagainst St. Louis on Dec. 28.

Let's assume for a second the Falcons already beat the Rams. Think they can win one of those other three games? If they do, that makes them 10-6 and probably puts them in the playoffs.