5 Games the Atlanta Falcons can't afford to drop after schedule release

Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout
Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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4. New Orleans Saints

Looking at the schedule Atlanta's path to the playoffs becomes clear with the team needing a 4-2 division record to have a great shot of finishing the year in control of the division and a playoff spot. That means the Falcons need to sweep the Panthers and split with the rest of their division. Tampa is going to be the best or second-best team in this division and is the clearest threat to Atlanta.

However, for whatever reason it isn't the Bucs that concern Atlanta fans in the division. The hate between the teams and fanbases in New Orleans and Atlanta isn't hard to understand. It is a college-level rivalry that has swung in both directions in the history of each respective franchise.

Right now the Falcons have the better roster but the last time these two teams played Derek Carr and Jameis Winston ran up the score and ran the Falcons off the field. Atlanta needs to give this team their full attention understanding as a rivalry getting one game from this team is going to be incredibly difficult no matter how they are playing against the rest of the league.

If the schedule plays out as expected and the Falcons can take care of business against the Raiders, Steelers, Saints, and Panthers you are looking at five wins that will swing the season in either direction and determine whether this is truly a playoff team.