CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Atlanta Falcons got what they wanted for Christmas a day early.
The Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 33-16, and the New Orleans Saints upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later on Saturday. It was the exact scenario the Falcons needed to win the NFC South title on Saturday.
The Falcons are 10-5 overall, and their win over the Panthers coupled with the Buccaneers' loss made it impossible for anyone in the division to catch up to their win total with just one week left in the regular season.
The Falcons clinched a playoff berth minutes before Tampa Bay's game concluded because Oakland beat Indianapolis, allowing the Falcons to clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Detroit Lions.
Head coach Dan Quinn wouldn't talk about the possibility of clinching the playoffs after his team's win on Saturday.
"Too much speculation," he said. "Until that happens, we'll hold those conversations."
The Falcons will raise a division title banner for the first time since 2012, and it will happen in their new stadium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In 2012, the Falcons won the NFC South and made it to the NFC Championship, but lost to San Francisco.
This year, they put together their first winning season since then in Quinn's second season with the team. They also beat the defending conference champion Carolina Panthers twice this season to do so.
Quinn's first experience facing Carolina as the Falcons' coach was a 38-0 blowout at Bank of America Stadium last season. It was a game he said he took personally and won't ever forget.
"Those struggles and those scars, you definitely remember. I definitely remember that one more than some wins. I can promise you that. It was a very difficult day for our team, and for me personally, that was on my watch. I don't look at it last year or this year. We're a way different team in 2016 than we were in 2015," Quinn said.
The Falcons moved up to the No. 2 seed in the NFC after the Seattle Seahawks were upset by the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night, dropping them down to No. 4. If the Falcons win next week, they will clinch a first-round bye.
The Falcons also have an advantage over the Detroit Lions, who play Monday night, because of their strength of victories. The Lions are currently in the No. 3 seed as the NFC North leader.
The Falcons beat the Panthers thanks to some unlikely players, specially tight ends, making big plays.
Matt Ryan found Joshua Perkins on the opening drive for a 26-yard touchdown. With the score, Ryan broke his own franchise record for most touchdowns in a single season. He now has 34. The Falcons already broke a franchise record this season for most points scored in a single season.
After Matt Bryant made two field goals from 51 and 48-yards out, Ryan threw to tight end D.J. Tialavea from 1-yard to extend the lead to 17 before halftime.
Tialavea was called up earlier in the week from the practice squad to help the tight ends group who is suffering from injuries from Jacob Tamme and Austin Hooper. It was his first game in the NFL.
Ryan threw 27 completions on 33 attempts for 277 yards.
The Falcons face the New Orleans Saints at home on Jan. 1 for their final game of the regular season and possibly the final Falcons game at the Georgia Dome.PHOTOS | Falcons in the Pro Bowl