NFL playoff picture: Falcons' loss tightens NFC race

Wesley Hitt

Atlanta has a one-game lead on Chicago for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Atlanta Falcons lost their first game of the 2012 season on Sunday, a 31-27 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. The loss kept tight the battle for the top playoff seed in the NFC.

The Chicago Bears could have pulled even with the Falcons at 8-1, but they dropped a home contest to the Houston Texans. The San Francisco 49ers also could have made up ground in the race for first but were unable to defeat the St. Louis Rams in overtime, and that game ended in a 24-24 tie.

The Green Bay Packers were off in Week 10 but have the fourth-best record in the NFC and also boast the conference's longest winning streak. The New York Giants lead the NFC East despite a two-game losing streak.

Here's a look at the NFC playoff race, ordered by win-loss record:

1. Atlanta Falcons (8-1)
2. Chicago Bears (7-2)
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1)
4. Green Bay Packers (6-3)
T5. New York Giants (6-4)
T5. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
T5. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)

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