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Atlanta Falcons 2013 Schedule Analysis
Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season
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By: Mark Ross | 6/13/13, 12:15 PM EDT
After finally getting over the playoff hump last season, the Atlanta Falcons have their sights set squarely on Super Bowl XLVIII. The path to the NFC crown will be anything but easy, but the pieces are in place for this Falcons team to play in New York on Feb. 2. Here's our look at the Falcons' 2013 NFL schedule.
Atlanta Falcons 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: at New Orleans
Week 2: St. Louis
Week 3: at Miami
Week 4: New England
Week 5: New York Jets (Mon.)
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Tampa Bay
Week 8: at Arizona
Week 9: at Carolina
Week 10: Seattle
Week 11: at Tampa Bay
Week 12: New Orleans (Thurs.)
Week 13: vs. Buffalo (Toronto)
Week 14: at Green Bay
Week 15: Washington
Week 16: at San Francisco (Mon.)
Week 17: Carolina
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Out of the Gate: The defending NFC South champions didn't get any breaks from the schedule-makers as the Falcons open the season on the road against division rival New Orleans. Opening at home against St. Louis the following Sunday probably won't be a cakewalk and then it's a trip down south to Miami and a home date with New England to close out the first month. The Falcons will need to bring their "A" game from the start or could put themselves in an early hole before the calendar turns to October.
Toughest Stretch: There are few, if any, breathers on this schedule, but November in particular could be a make-or-break month for Atlanta. The Falcons enter the second half of their schedule with a road game against division rival Carolina as the precursor to a rematch of last season's NFC Divisional Playoffs against Seattle. After that it's back-to-back divisional games - first a trip to Tampa Bay followed by a Thursday night date with New Orleans in the Georgia Dome.
Swing Games: at GB (Week 14), WAS (Week 15)
Crossover Divisions: AFC East, NFC West
Bye Week: Week 6
Opp. 2012 W/L %: .504 (15th)
Athlon's SOS Rank: 1st
Easiest Stretch: Coming out of their Week 6 bye, the Falcons get Tampa Bay at home followed by back-to-back road games at Arizona and Carolina. A three-game stretch featuring two divisional games and two road games may not seem "easy," but that's the kind of schedule Atlanta drew this season. The Buccaneers, Cardinals and Panthers all finished below .500 in 2012, although to be fair, the two NFC South teams were close at 7-9.
Circle The Calendar: Take your pick. The Week 4 matchup with New England should be entertaining and then there's a December trip to Lambeau Field to play Green Bay in Week 14. Crossover play with the NFC West also means the Falcons get another shot against Seattle at home and a chance to exact some revenge against San Francisco on the road on "Monday Night Football" in Week 16.
Divisional Notes: Atlanta opens the season on the road in New Orleans and then doesn't play another NFC South opponent until after its Week 6 bye. Later in the season, the Falcons go to Tampa Bay in Week 11 and then it's a quick turnaround for a Thursday night showdown at home against the Saints the following week. What makes this double-dip even more daunting is that the Buccaneers' game is preceded by Atlanta's rematch with Seattle in the Georgia Dome. Along those same lines, the Falcons will finish the regular season with Carolina at home, but that game comes on the heels of playing the 49ers in San Francisco on Monday night to close out the Week 16 slate.
Playoff Push: The Falcons will spend the first two weekends in December up north with their first two games of the final month set for Toronto, where they will play Buffalo, and the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to face off with Green Bay. Then it's home to play Washington, who may or may not have Robert Griffin III running the offense by then, before heading cross-country for a Week 16 Monday night showdown and NFC Championship game rematch with San Francisco. If the Falcons' playoff hopes and/or seeding are still undecided come Week 17, Carolina would like nothing more than to spoil either or both by taking down its divisional rival on its own home turf.
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Matt Ryan and his receivers should get plenty of work in against Green Bay and Washington. The road game against the Packers will probably feature plenty of offense, while the Redskins finished 30th in the league in both passing defense and fantasy points allowed to WRs. The dynamic could change greatly on the road against the 49ers (No. 3 in ypg, No. 2 in ppg) in Week 16.