With the NFL season just over 4 months away, the league released the full schedules of all 32 teams on Thursday evening. The Falcons were blessed with a staggering five primetime games (two on Sunday, two on Monday, one on Thursday) as a result of their mass appeal as a high-profile team and their trip to the NFC Title game last season. Let’s take a quick look at the schedule.
- Sunday, September 8th – Falcons @ Saints – 1:00 PM - The Falcons open with their arch-rival. It’s not a primetime spot, but all eyes will be on New Orleans when these two face off, and they are probably considered to be the front-runners in the NFC South.
- Sunday, September 15th – Falcons vs. Rams – 1:00 PM – Say Hello to Sam Bradford and company. The headliner? Steven Jackson makes a triumphant return to St. Louis, where he starred for years.
- Sunday, September 22nd – Falcons @ Dolphins – 4:05 PM – Miami is not particularly talented, but that’s never a fun road trip, and this could be a spot where the Falcons need to have their guard up for an upset.
- Sunday, September 29th – Falcons vs. Patriots – 8:30 PM – A prime-time spot against New England? That’s about as big as it gets. Ryan vs. Brady is the headliner, but the key will be keeping the Pats’ offense in check with a suddenly short-handed Atlanta secondary.
- Monday, October 7th – Falcons vs. Jets – 8:30 PM – It seems that ESPN hasn’t learned their lesson about scheduling bad teams on Monday night. The Jets are a bit of a disaster right now, without a single above-average skill player, and the Dome will be rocking.
- BYE WEEK (Week 6) – An early bye week could be a disadvantage, but this isn’t too early.
- Sunday, October 20th – Falcons vs. Bucs – 1:00 PM - The first of two with Atlanta’s “other” rival. Tampa Bay could be dangerous this year in year #2 with Doug Martin, and a hopefully improved defense.
- Sunday, October 27th – Falcons @ Cardinals – 1:00 PM - Well, at least it’s on the road. Arizona is Arizona.
- Sunday, November 3rd – Falcons @ Panthers – 1:00 PM – Cam Newton is worth the price of admission. Remember the late-game comeback last year?
- Sunday, November 10th – Falcons vs. Seahawks – 1:00 PM – I can’t believe this is a day game. The playoff rematch will be one of the best games of the entire season in the NFL, and this is an absolute must-see.
- Sunday, November 17th – Falcons @ Bucs – 1:00 PM – Round two with Tampa could be crucial for the playoff push.
- Thursday, November 21st – Falcons vs. Saints – 8:25 PM – More primetime! My guess is that the crowd will be absolutely unruly in this one, and the last time that happened, Drew Brees left having thrown 5 interceptions.
- Sunday, December 1st – Falcons @ Bills – 1:00 PM – I don’t know what to make of the Bills (at all), but the shear length of the road trip is always a challenge there.
- Sunday, December 8th – Falcons @ Packers – 8:30 PM - The second of the Sunday night tilts sends the Falcons to the cold weather of Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers leads that uber-talented offense, and this could be the year’s biggest test for the secondary.
- Sunday, December 15th – Falcons vs. Redskins – 1:00 PM – A fully healthy RG3 (by this point) makes this one extremely interesting.
- Monday, December 23rd – Falcons @ Niners – 1:00 PM – NFC Title game rematch? I’m all in. The Niners are widely considered to be the favorite in the NFC this season, and there’s a distinct possibility that this game could be for home-field in the playoffs.
- Sunday, December 29th – Falcons vs. Panthers – 1:00 PM – Doesn’t it seem like Carolina is always the Week 17 opponent?
There you have it. Obviously, we’ll get into greater depth, but it’s time to plan your road trips and tailgate schedules. The NFL is on the way.