The Falcons regular season schedule was released on Thursday, and while there are still a lot of unknowns about how NFL rosters will look with the draft approaching, it is never too early to start predicting how the season will pan out. Let’s take a look at the 2018 schedule which begins in Philadelphia:
|WK1 Sept. 6||at Philadelphia||8:20pm NBC|
|WK2 Sept. 16||vs. Carolina||1:00pm FOX|
|WK3 Sept. 23||vs. New Orleans||1:00pm FOX|
|WK4 Sept. 30||vs. Cincinnati||1:00pm CBS|
|WK5 Oct. 7||at Pittsburgh||1:00pm FOX|
|WK6 Oct. 14||vs. Tampa Bay||1:00pm FOX|
|WK7 Oct. 22||vs. NY Giants||8:15pm ESPN|
|WK9 Nov. 4||at Washington||1:00pm FOX|
|WK10 Nov. 11||at Cleveland||1:00pm FOX|
|WK11 Nov. 18||vs. Dallas||1:00pm FOX|
|WK12 Nov. 22||at New Orleans||8:20pm NBC|
|WK13 Dec. 2||vs. Baltimore||1:00pm CBS|
|WK14 Dec. 9||at Green Bay||1:00pm FOX|
|WK15 Dec. 16||vs. Arizona||1:00pm FOX|
|WK16 Dec. 23||at Carolina||1:00pm FOX|
|WK17 Dec. 30||at Tampa Bay||1:00pm FOX|
As you can see, the Falcons will have no breaks early on beginning with Philly, Carolina, New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Looking at the glass half full, three of those matchups will take place at home. It goes without saying how tough it is going to be for Atlanta to get a win against Philadelphia, but the Falcons certainly have the talent and experience to get it done. Atlanta should be slight favorites in their next three games and then a slight underdog on the road against the Steelers. It is safe to say 3-2 would be a very nice start for Atlanta to begin 2018. I will call it 2-3 for now and move on.
The schedule eases up a bit in the following weeks with home games against the Bucs and the Giants followed by two road matchups with the Redskins and the Browns. All of these opponents should be much improved in the 2018 season, however, the Falcons should be able and need to go at least 3-1 down this stretch putting them at 5-4 for the season.
Atlanta will have to take advantage of that previous four-game stretch because the schedule only gets tougher from there. A home game facing the Cowboys is followed by a primetime matchup in the SuperDome on Thanksgiving day. The Falcons were able to get a home win against Dallas last season, and they should be able to do it again this season, but predicting a win against New Orleans in primetime on Thanksgiving is wishful thinking. Atlanta will split those games. They host Baltimore the following week, which is never easy. They claw out a three-point win against the Ravens in the battle of the birds, pushing their record to 7-5.
The Falcons close out the record with three of their final four games coming on the road. The first of which coming against the Packers at Lambeau Field in December. The Falcons have owned the Packers as of late, obliterating them the last two times they faced. However, both of those games took place in a dome. This one is going to be played in a frozen tundra. That will certainly play a factor, but defense travels and the Falcons defense will continue to give Rodgers fits. Atlanta wins convincingly in Green Bay. The Falcons should be able to take care of business against Arizona at home the following week and finish up with two division games on the road. They split those two games, finishing the season at 10-6.
Yep, the ole 10-6 prediction, a classic for many trying to predict how a season will pan out. Atlanta has the talent and should be improved on both sides of the ball from the year before. The problem is the schedule does not look like it will be handing out many easy wins. Atlanta is a playoff caliber team, but in a loaded NFC, they are going to have to fight every week to reach the ten win mark and return to the playoffs for the third consecutive season.