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Falcons moving up
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ATLANTA — The Falcons may be looking more like a playoff team in the standings than on the field.
Atlanta (7-4) has won five of six. There have been some struggles, including Sunday’s 24-14 win over Minnesota. The Falcons led the Vikings 17-0 and needed a goal-line stand to stop the Vikings’ comeback.
One week earlier, the Falcons led Tennessee by 20 points before winning 23-17.
Coach Mike Smith said Monday the Falcons have moved up after a 2-3 start to become relevant for the final weeks of the regular season.
“We’ve always said that we always want to position ourselves to be a relevant team in November and December, and the teams that have sustainability are the ones that are relevant in November and December,” Smith said.
A favorable schedule could help the Falcons, who were No. 6 in the NFC playoff standings before Monday night’s Saints-Giants game.The Falcons still play three teams — Carolina, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay — who are a combined 13 games under .500.
This week they will face the Houston Texans, who are missing their top two quarterbacks. Matt Schaub already was out for the season with a foot injury when the Texans likely lost Matt Leinart for the season because of a broken collarbone in Sunday’s victory against the Jaguars.
The Falcons also had a break against Minnesota when Vikings star Adrian Peterson was held out with a sprained left ankle.

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