Nov 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Keyunta Dawson (55) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (76) in the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Saints won 17-13. Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons 2014: A two-week season

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The Atlanta Falcons season officially kicks off on Sept. 7, with the Saints coming to town for a 1 p.m. start on Fox.

While all of us Dirty Birds will be geared up for that game, any of you who are planning long-term leaves of absence need not worry. The real season for the Falcons will be two weeks long and will feature games on Dec. 21 and Dec. 28.

It’s safe to say that last year’s campaign was the exception, not the rule. That said, there are still plenty of questions to be answered and a tough season awaits. But there is reason to think that this will be a vastly improved team with far better prospects on the 2014 horizon.

The first 14 games can be broken into three categories: wins, losses and flip a coin.

The optimist in me has five slam-dunk wins on the schedule:

Bengals — week 2

Bucs — week 3

Vikings — week 4

Bucs — week 9

Browns — week 11

The realist in me sees these losses:

Saints — week 1

Bears — week 6

Panthers — week 10

Packers — week 13

Steelers — week 14

That leaves four flip-a-coin games before the final two games:

Giants — week 5

Ravens — week 7

Lions — week 8

Cardinals — week 12

So let’s assume we the coin lands on heads twice and tails twice. That puts the Falcons at 7-7 going into the final two weeks of the season. One game in New Orleans, the final game at home versus the Carolina Panthers. Assuming a jumbled NFC playoff picture, which is almost a foregone conclusion, a 9-7 record could be ample to get into the playoffs and, if everything lines up, enough for a run at a division title. And if anyone questions the NFL’s brilliance at late season ratings scheduling, this scenario right here shows why they are the masters at keeping the drama going all season long.

So worry not if you plan to be completely out of touch until just before Christmas. But we will need you Rise Up during those last two weeks of the season.

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