It’s time, ladies and gentlemen. After a brief delay due to the current health situation, the NFL finally revealed its 256-game slate for its 32 member clubs. At 8:00 EST, the Atlanta Falcons ushered in the new uniform era with showcasing their 16-game schedule to all members of Falcons Nation. The 16 games are as follows*:
Week One: vs. SEA
Week Two: @ DAL
Week Three: vs. CHI
Week Four: @ GB (MNF)
Week Five: vs. CAR
Week Six: @ MIN
Week Seven: vs. DET
Week Eight: @ CAR (TNF)
Week Nine: vs. DEN
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: @ NO
Week 12: vs. LV
Week 13: vs. NO
Week 14: @ LAC
Week 15: vs. TB
Week 16: @ KC
Week 17: @ TB
Note: the “*” means certain times are not official yet. Furthermore, Weeks 5-17 are subject to the NFL flex schedule policy.
An official schedule prediction will come at a later date. That said, let’s take a look at some of the key matchups on the slate.
Best Early Game Matchup: Week Four @ GB
Atlanta has two primetime matchups in the 2020 season after their 7-9, second-place campaign in 2019. One of those two contests is arguably the most important because it’s against Green Bay in Lambeau Field. For the Falcons, this is a huge advantage towards them, especially considering that the Packers are really dominant at home in late November- early December. Last time these teams faced off in Green Bay, the Packers won the contest 34-20, culminating Atlanta’s five-game losing streak at the time. Furthermore, Atlanta hasn’t defeated Green Bay on the road since Matt Ryan was a rookie. That said, there is a similarity here between this season and then: the date in which it’s being contested (October 5th).
Toughest Late Season Matchup: Week 16 @ KC
There were many options for this contest, especially considering four of the Falcons’ final seven are divisional opponents (with the other three being AFC West). Even more interesting, the format of these games alternates between divisions (nice move, NFL schedule makers). Playing in the Superdome is always a tough contest, so the Saints were definitely a consideration here. However, right now the toughest opponent coming down the stretch is when Atlanta has to travel to Kansas City for a game against the defending Super Bowl champs. Historically, Atlanta is 1-3 when they travel to Arrowhead, and as history has shown, that stadium can get loud. However, the last time they played in KC, they won 40-24. Can Atlanta make it two in a row at the expense of the champs? It’d be a great Christmas present for Falcons Nation if they do.
Easiest Two/Three-game Stretch: Weeks 7-9
This stretch of opponents provides the Falcons with two facts about their schedule: both when their second primetime contest is and when their International Series game was supposed to be. The Falcons first game in this stretch sees them play host to the Detroit Lions, and that will most likely feature a matchup between Julio and rookie CB Jeff Okudah, a player Atlanta was reported to have been linked entering the draft. Following this, they play the Panthers for the second time, this one coming on Thursday Night Football. And finally, their International Series game slot ends this stretch when they play host to the Denver Broncos. Atlanta could see some good fortune here entering their bye week because, after that, it’s going to be tough sledding throughout the remaining games.
Hardest Two/Three-game Stretch: Weeks 15-17
On paper, this couldn’t have been done to give Atlanta any favors. First, Tom Brady comes to their division, and then Gronk comes out of retirement to join him. While the first game is in Atlanta, and the Falcons do tend to play the Bucs close in their stadium, Brady is technically undefeated against the Falcons in his career. After this, the Falcons have to travel to Kansas City (more on that above). Finally, they end their season in the same fashion as the past two seasons: traveling down I-85 (and I-75) to Tampa Bay. Last time these teams met up in Raymond James Stadium, fans remember how that game ended. It’s no surprise that this might be the toughest stretch of any team this season. But if Atlanta is somehow in contention for a postseason berth and they go 2-1 or 3-0 in these games, this is the ultimate form of battle-tested.
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