We all know the Falcons face an uphill battle to get back to the top of the NFL standings this fall. They play in one of the toughest divisions in the game, but even their out-of-division matchups are going to be against mostly good teams in 2014.
ESPN annually releases a strength of schedule ranking based on the opponent’s win percentage from the previous year. Atlanta comes in near the top with the 11th toughest schedule on the list.
We know the Falcons face tough opponents in the NFC South, but they also play the NFC and AFC North in 2014. That means games against good teams like the Packers, Lions, Bears, Ravens, Bengals and Steelers. Only the Vikings and the Browns should shape up as easy wins for Atlanta.
The other two games on the schedule for the Falcons are home against the Arizona Cardinals and at the New York Giants. The Cardinals are a team on the rise who were tough to beat last year. And the Giants, even though they finished poorly, are never an easy win on their home turf.
Analyzing an NFL schedule months before the season starts can be tricky. We haven’t seen what any of these teams will do in the draft or free agency, so things could change dramatically between now and next fall. Sometimes teams that look like they will be a tough opponent end up and easy win, and sometimes what looks like a walk-through turns out to be a loss.
For now, we know that the Falcons are likely to face one of the toughest schedules in the NFL next year, let’s hope they’re up to the task.