Atlanta Falcons: Schedule Not As Easy As It Looks


The Atlanta Falcons have the easiest strength of schedule, so they say. Many believe the Falcons could be on course for ten wins in 2015, and they could, but it won’t be a stroll in the park by any means.

In 2015, the Falcons will play each team from the NFC East and AFC South, which will give them some interesting contests.

Not only that, the Falcons will be aiming to replicate their success within the division after going 5-1 against their rivals last season.

According to an article on, teams with a Top 5 easiest strength of schedule are twice as likely to make the playoffs than the teams with the toughest games:

"“The correlation between strength of schedule and teams making the playoffs has been extreme in the last five seasons. Teams with a Top 5 toughest strength of schedule in that span have made the playoffs 24.1 percent of the time. Teams with a Top 5 easiest strength of schedule have more than doubled that percentage, making the playoffs 50.0 percent of the time.”"

That’s a interesting statistic, but the strength of schedule is based on last season’s performances, and no team will be the same as it was a year ago.

If we were to judge the schedule on last season, we would also have to assume the Atlanta Falcons’ defense is the worst in the NFL and the offense lacks a ground game.

With additions made through free agency and the draft, each team in the NFL believes they have added players who can fill needs and take the team to the next level.

In free agency, one team’s gain is another’s loss. The Detroit Lions finished 11-5 last season and boasted the No. 2 defense in football, but the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley could itself have knocked a win or two off last year’s tally.

Strength of schedule gives us an idea of where each team is at before any offseason moves have been made, but we can’t expect all 16 of Atlanta’s 2015 opponents to perform to the same level they did in 2014.

If we were to judge the schedule on last season, we would also have to assume the Atlanta Falcons’ defense is the worst in the NFL and the offense lacks a ground game.

Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) runs after a catch in the third quarter of their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Per Reid Ferrin of, Falcons receiver Roddy White doesn’t take notice of the strength of schedule as the NFL is so unpredictable each year:

“That doesn’t mean anything,” White said. “Every year in this league you find a team that didn’t’ win five games (the year before) and the next year it wins 11; it’s always like that in the NFL. There’s always some Cinderella team that comes out of nowhere and wins a lot of games. None of that actually means anything to me.”

Only four games on the Falcons’ 2015 schedule come against teams who reached the playoffs: Carolina twice, Dallas and Indianapolis.

A number of the teams they face this year could easily be in contention, though.

The Falcons face as tough a start as they could have hoped for. They will host Philadelphia before travelling to Dallas and New York — all three teams could be in playoff contention.

The Eagles now have the league’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray, and they can expect better quarterback play now with Sam Bradford under center, assuming he stays healthy.

Murray may not in Dallas anymore, but they themselves have plenty of playmakers on offense. Tony Romo will be protected by one of the league’s premier offensive lines, and they still have Dez Bryant lining up outside.

The Giants might feature the best wide receiver duo in the league, with Victor Cruz returning from injury to pair up with the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr. They also added Shane Vereen to their backfield.

How good will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be in 2015 with Jameis Winston? I’m not convinced their win column is ready to fly up too high just yet, but could they snatch a victory off Atlanta?

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What about the Minnesota Vikings? They are my team to watch in 2015. The Vikings’ defense is a rising force under Mike Zimmer, Teddy Bridgewater is developing nicely at quarterback and a certain Adrian Peterson is set to return.

How about the road trip to the Marcus Mariota-led Tennessee Titans? We just don’t know.

And right in the middle of that is a test against the rising star in Andrew Luck in a game that will give the new-look Falcons’ defense one of it’s biggest tests.

Under Dan Quinn, the Falcons are excited about the future, and there is plenty to look forward to. This team is capable of making the playoffs in 2015, and they could do so by winning the NFC South outright.

The schedule may not look too bad when you look at each opponent’s 2014 record, but the Falcons’ road to the playoffs might be a little tougher than we might think.

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