Falcons are One of John Clayton's Five Surprise Teams for 2010

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From his column:

Atlanta Falcons: Last year a tougher schedule dropped the Falcons from 11 wins to nine, but the schedule breaks perfectly this season, giving Atlanta the chance to get back to 11-5.

Hit the jump for more Falcons goodness and my thoughts on John Clayton’s five surprise teams.

The biggest break for the Falcons is how the 2010 offseason made their schedule easier by not having to play three elite quarterbacks. The Falcons open the season in Pittsburgh while Ben Roethlisberger is on suspension. Their home opener in Week 2 is against an Arizona Cardinals team without Kurt Warner, who retired. The Falcons’ second-place finish in 2009 allowed them to draw the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 17 in one of the two games that aren’t common to the other three teams in the NFC South. The Falcons will face Kevin Kolb instead of McNabb.

The Falcons’ non-divisional road schedule features teams that had a combined 31-49 record in 2009. The Steelers and Eagles are Atlanta’s only non-divisional road opponents who had winning records last season. The other three are winnable games at Cleveland, St. Louis and Seattle.

Clayton predicting an 11-5 record for the Falcons is right on point with what the Blogging Dirty community predicted as well. It is interesting to be reminded that the Falcons will dodge the Roethlisberger/Warner/McNabb trio over the course of the season.

The rest of list included the Redskins, Panthers, Raiders and Bears. Other than the Falcons, none of these teams will likely make the playoffs, but they will be interesting to watch nonetheless.

I think the Falcons will become a popular pick the closer we get to the season and would not be surprised if some major publication makes them their Super Bowl pick.

What do you think? Is it good the Falcons are getting national publicity, or do you prefer they fly under the radar. Sound off in the comments or start the conversation on Twitter.

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