Tuesday night the National Football League released the schedules for all 32 teams including the Atlanta Falcons who missed the playoffs last season with a 6-10 record. Mike Smith is out as head coach and former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is in along with a few new coordinators include Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator. Personally, I am happy that Coach Quinn decided to keep defensive line coach Bryan Cox & special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong on staff.
But enough about the changes and onward to the newly released schedule. In the preseason, the Dirty Birds will take on the Tennessee Titans at home on Friday, August 14th followed by a road game the following Friday night against the New York Jets. The Falcons will then travel down to Miami on Saturday, August 29th to face the Dolphins. Finally, in the final preseason game Atlanta will come home to the Georgia Dome to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, September 3rd.
In the month of September, the Falcons face the three good teams from the NFC East who combined for a record of 28-20 in 2014. On Monday Night Football to open the season, Atlanta will welcome the Philadelphia Eagles and whoever their quarterback is to the Georgia Dome for their season opener on September 14th. Then on six days rest, Atlanta will travel to New York City to take on the New York Giants and quarterback Eli Manning who threw for over 4400 yards last season. Then the following Sunday, the Falcons will close out the month on the road in ‘Jerry World’ against the reigning NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys.
The Falcons have three manageable games and one difficult one on
short rest in the month of October. It begins with back to back home games against the Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins who at the moment don’t necessarily know who their starting quarterbacks will be, so that bodes well for Atlanta and their new defensively minded head coach. But there won’t be much rest to be had after the Washington game as they Falcons have to travel to New Orleans to face the hated Saints the following Thursday night. This is the worst part of the Falcons schedule all season in my opinion: having to play your arch rival on the road on short rest. Atlanta will get a ten day stretch before their next game on the road at the Tennessee Titans, who will either have a rookie quarterback, a second year quarterback or Philip Rivers according to trade rumors. I like the Falcons chances with the first two.
The month of November rolls in with a home date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will most likely also have a rookie quarterback under center followed by a road game across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers, who as a child I hated as much as those pesky Aints in New Orleans. The pick six that sealed the win against Atlanta back in 2013 still haunts me to this day. I really wanted that win. The Falcons get a bye week following the cross country trip which is nicely timed a little past the halfway point of the season followed by a home date with the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck and all of his new toys. In the off season Indy was able to sign free agents Andre Johnson & Frank Gore who will certainly make an impact with an already solid offensive team. Atlanta will close out the month of November with a home date against the Minnesota Vikings and young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
December begins with three straight road trips to Tampa Bay, Carolina
& Jacksonville which isn’t too bad except for the fact that Carolina is slowly becoming more of a complete team than the Saints. Oh, and the fact that the Falcons have to turn around and play the Panthers again the week after they play the Jaguars. Yes, if you are keeping score at home, the Falcons have to play the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton & that superb defense twice in a three weeks span which is not ideal. The next week, yep, you guessed it… the stupid Saints come to town for the regular season finale in the Georgia Dome.
All-in-all I think the 2015 Atlanta Falcons schedule is navigable. It’s no cake walk especially for a team with a new head coach, new coordinators but even with that this team has play makers on both sides of the ball and will be fine with the schedule in which they have been presented. The Saints game on short rest and the two Panthers games in such a short time are really the only two difficult stretches in the entire thing. Maybe it’s just my optimism but I think the Dirty Birds will win the NFC South and finish the regular season 11-5 with losses to the Giants, Cowboys, Colts, Panthers & Saints. Rise Up!
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