Last week, the NFL tried its best to turn the official schedule release into some kind of a blockbuster event.
While it may have ignited some spirited discussion in Twitterland, the schedule release doesn’t generate as much intrigue as the NFL Combine, or the Draft, or … watching rookies run wind sprints.
Regardless, having the schedule set in ink is an important offseason moment. And for the Falcons who have endured quite the whirlwind of turnover, it’s the first look at the games that will shape the season.
The Atlanta Falcons currently own the league’s ninth-toughest schedule on paper. There are some marquee matchups in the mix. As well as some tilts where the Falcons faithful may wish to avert their eyes.
You may want to kick back and relax this season as the screen will be the only action you can get in on in without the option of online sports betting in Georgia.
Week 1: New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
It doesn’t matter that these two teams are undergoing their respective rebuilds. When the Saints and Falcons meet it’s nearly guaranteed fireworks.
The 2022 Atlanta Falcons season officially kicks off with Hate Week, as the Saints stroll into Mercedes-Benz Stadium to meet their archrival.
The Falcons split their two games with the Saints last season. This year they’ll be looking for the first leg of a sweep to start 2022.
Week 2: Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams
This is likely the toughest matchup on Atlanta’s docket for the 2022 NFL season. Taking on the offensive juggernaut that is the Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium is no easy task — especially in the second week.
The Falcons opened as a massive 13.5-point underdog in this one. A signal that it’s going to be an uphill climb for the Falcons to best the Rams on the road.
Week 6: San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
Former offensive coordinator and current head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s first visit to Atlanta since he
did not run the football in the Super Bowl left to coach the 49ers in 2017.
Narratives will dominate this one, as each franchise is unsettled at the quarterback position. Will this be a clash of veterans under center with Jimmy Garoppolo facing off against new Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota? Or will second-year QB Trey Lance meet rookie Desmond Ridder?
Week 7: Atlanta Falcons @ Cincinnati Bengals
Atlanta heads on the road to face the other participant in Super Bowl LVI, the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy’s upstart offense was powered to the Super Bowl by the former college connection of quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
Cincy will again be angling to make noise in the postseason. So this charts as another rough game on Atlanta’s schedule.
Week 9: Los Angeles Chargers @ Atlanta Falcons
With its offseason acquisition of EDGE defender Khalil Mack, the Los Angeles Chargers now sport one of the most daunting fronts in the league. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack will certainly prove a problem for the perennially inept Atlanta Falcons offensive line.
And, it will be a large test for whoever the Falcons roll out at right tackle, be it Kaleb McGary or Jalen Mayfield. Justin Herbert is also one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks, so this is a tall order on Atlanta’s schedule. Even if it takes place at the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Week 14: BYE
A week to wooosah is always worth a mention on a schedule evaluation.
Week 16: Atlanta Falcons @ Baltimore Ravens
Christmas Eve involves the Atlanta Falcons this season. That could be a welcome addition or visual coal in your stocking, depending on how the season has gone at this point.
Baltimore in the winter is not a hospitable place to play for any team, let alone one that operates in a dome at home.
The Falcons will need to contend with Lamar Jackson’s ability to maneuver outside the pocket and make plays on the ground, potentially in wintry weather. Earmark this one.
The Falcons will not have the ease of schedule benefit they should have enjoyed in 2021, where they ranked 30th after the initial release. No, it will be much tougher sledding for the Atlanta Falcons this year.
Photo by Aaron Doster/Associated Press