The NFL released the 2015 Falcons schedule, and that means it's time for irresponsibly early predictions! Please roll out your excited cheer of choice.
Keep in mind that we haven't even seen the NFL Draft just yet, so you shouldn't take these predictions particularly seriously. This is me considering the current team and the slate of opponents and trying to piece together my sense of how each game might go. It's fair to say that a good draft will add a win or two to this list in my mind and a lot can go wrong to make me go the other way.
Check out the breakdown below, and you can see how I got the Falcons to 9-7 for the upcoming year.
Falcons 2015 schedule prediction
Week 1 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: A tough matchup, given the Eagles' offensive acumen, the primetime nature of the game and the fact that Atlanta's heading into its first game under a new head coach. But for all that, this is in the Georgia Dome and I expect this team to come out swinging in 2015. Let's chalk this one up as a Win.
Week 2: @New York Giants: Yeah, it's September, but the Giants are a tough team to play on the road. They've got an excellent aerial attack and the Falcons will be working on a bit of a short, emotionally-charged week. This one's a Loss.
Week 3: @Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were much better than I expected a year ago, and it's possible we'll see pullback from them in 2015. Assuming they're as good as they were a year ago, though, I can't see the Falcons waltzing into the JerryDome and taking out a team with a terrific offensive line, above average passing game and quality defense. Chalk it up as a Loss.
Week 4: Houston Texans: This is one of the tougher games on the schedule, but the Texans once again will have a muddled quarterback situation to go with that dominant defense. The Falcons are in the cozy confines of the Georgia Dome, and if they can bottle up Arian Foster and the Texans' ground game, I think they walk out of this one with a Win.
Week 5 Washington Redskins: They may well be better this season, but this is still a weak Washington teamthat shouldn't be any match for a halfway decent Falcons team at home. Win.
Week 6: @New Orleans Saints: The Saints could go in a lot of different directions this season, depending on how well they do with their draft picks. Regardless, they'll play the Falcons tough, this one's in Louisiana and I rarely feel great about those matchups. Loss.
Week 7: @Tennessee Titans: The Titans game will be an opportunity for Harry Douglas and Jonathan Massaquoi to get revenge, but this is a team that needs considerable re-tooling to return to relevance. The Falcons should handle this one, even on the road. Win.
Week 8: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers can't be much worse than a year ago, but they're not going to be so much better than I don't feel really confident about this one. Win.
Week 9: @San Francisco 49ers: I'm not sure what to expect from the post-Harbaugh 49ers, but I know they're tough at home and that defense still has the markings of a dominant unit. If Colin Kaepernick is decent and Carlos Hyde takes a step forward this year, this will be a tough one. Loss.
Week 10: BYE WEEK
Week 11: Indianapolis Colts: Winnable game, because it's a home game, but the Colts are one of the league's stiffer challenges thanks to Andrew Luck, and they won't have Trent Richardson dragging the offense down. Expect a shootout the Falcons can't quite pull out. Loss.
Week 12: Minnesota Vikings: I have a ton of respect for this Vikings team, which could be sneaky good in 2015. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best young quarterbacks going right now, they have a strong ground game and that defense is legitimately frightening, assuming good health next season. I feel crazy predicting two straight losses at the Georgia Dome, but here we are. Loss.
Week 13: @Buccaneers: See the last comment about the Bucs. The Falcons should be able to handle this one. Win.
Week 14: @Carolina Panthers: I keep waiting for the Panthers to fall apart, at least a little bit, but it hasn't happened just yet and that Week 17 loss is fresh in my mind. Guessing the Falcons won't take this one. Loss.
Week 15: @Jacksonville Jaguars: If Blake Bortles takes even a small step forward, this is a competent football team with a rising defense, and the Falcons have to travel to get there. Nonetheless, Atlanta should be able to handle their business. Win.
Week 16: Panthers: Revenge game potential here, a game at home, the fate of the season hanging in the balance under a new coaching staff. I think the Falcons pull this one off. Win.
Week 17: Saints: Falcons at home, with a chance for a winning season, against their most hated rival? Yeah, I'm going with a Win.
Look for a complete writer roundtable predicting the Falcons 2015 season later this week.