Tough start to schedule could determine Atlanta Falcons season

Falcons AJ Terrell Atlanta Falcons schedule release

Based on Vegas win totals for the upcoming season, the Atlanta Falcons have the easiest schedule in the National Football League. However, that’s not the case at the start of the season.

The Falcons schedule was released last week, and Atlanta will open with three teams that made the postseason a year ago, including the defending Super Bowl champions. The 2024 campaign will start with a reunion of sorts, as Arthur Smith returns to Mercedes Benz Stadium for the first time since being fired as the Falcons head coach. The Steelers may not be ready to contend for a Super Bowl this season, but they are as well coached as any football team, and the Steel City faithful will be coming down in droves in an attempt to take Mercedes Benz Stadium over.

The Falcons then turn around for their first Monday Night Football game since 2020, traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. It’s a primetime matchup for Kirk Cousins for the first time in his new threads, as he hopes to silence the narrative around him in primetime games. However, it will be extremely difficult to do on the road against a team in the Eagles with Super Bowl aspirations.

It’s more than feasible that the Falcons could start off this year’s highly anticipated campaign 0-2. We all know the numbers about 0-2 teams trying to reach the playoffs, just over 10% of teams have done it since 1990, and things could get even worse with the Chiefs coming to town for Week 3.

Not only is that three postseason teams from a year ago, but it’s two of the league’s best defenses in the Steelers and Chiefs as well as one that I expect to do a complete 180 from last year in the Eagles that Kirk Cousins will have to face in a new offense coming off a torn Achilles. If things go poorly, the Falcons very well could be staring at an 0-3 record in Raheem Morris’ first three games as head coach. Per NBC New York, only six teams since 1979 have made the postseason after starting the season 0-3.

Could you imagine?

All this hype surrounding the Falcons with Kirk Cousins in the fold and a new coaching staff, and they start off 0-3. Talk about a nightmare. The buzz surrounding Michael Penix Jr. would be at an all-time high. Whispers of Morris being the right guy for the job would begin, and Terry Fontenot would already have his bags packed.

Things also don’t get much easier following the first three games, with home matchups looming against the Saints and Bucs, two teams that expect to be competing for the NFC South crown.

The Atlanta Falcons 2024 schedule is a gauntlet to begin the season, especially for a team with a new coaching staff and quarterback. It has the potential to doom the Falcons season from the start, but it could also be something that benefits them.

Oftentimes, good teams take a while to find their footing early in the season, so it’s better to catch them early rather than later in the year. This difficult stretch also means the rest of the schedule is very favorable, so if the Falcons could somehow come out of the first five games with a 3-2 record, they would be set up very nicely to break a postseason drought that dates back to 2017.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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