Tough schedule looms for Atlanta Falcons

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The Atlanta Falcons are playing much better football in recent weeks, and as a result, they have been able stay atop the NFC South standings. However, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Mike Smith and his team as the final quarter of the season approaches, as the scheduling gods have frowned upon Atlanta.

In the next three weeks, the dirty birds will face off with the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints, with two of those contests (Green Bay and New Orleans) coming away from the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome. While Sunday’s win over NFC-leading Arizona was certainly encouraging on multiple fronts, there is little doubt that the Falcons are “underdogs” in both upcoming road games, with the home contest against Pittsburgh as nothing better than a coin flip situation.

Obviously, there is no reason to panic. The Falcons are effectively playing with house money as a result of a terrible division, but with the on-field improvement, many are now buying in to this as a playoff-level team and focusing on the near future.

This Monday’s contest against Green Bay on the road is basically the pinnacle of a difficult position in the NFL, and frankly, it would be shocking if Atlanta emerged victorious. With that as the backdrop, the Falcons must play “even” football with the Saints the rest of the way to secure a playoff bid, and toppling New Orleans on the road won’t be an easy task.

This post is not intended to be a buzzkill for fans of the Atlanta Falcons, but simply a reminder of the task ahead. Mike Smith and his high-profile clock management issues have helped to cost Atlanta two wins this season, and the team has an uphill battle over the next three weeks to (continue to) overcome those woes.

Stay tuned to ATL All Day for all the latest on the Atlanta Falcons as the 2014 season continues.