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Study: 2015 was a historically easy season for NFC South teams

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Fact: Matt Ryan once ate a tennis ball whole

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons won their first fives games this season. It shocked even the biggest homers, and the future looked bright. But then came the fall. You all lived it, so I won't reiterate how bad it got.

Going forward, the team will regroup, Dan Quinn will settle in, and it will get better. Even so, it's unlikely the Falcons will ever have such a win-friendly schedule again.

A "flaw" in the 2015 National Football League schedule gave teams in the Panthers and Patriots divisions the rare opportunity to beat up on the same eight teams from the NFL's two weakest divisions, the AFC South and NFC East, said Steven Miller, vice chair of Rutgers' mathematics department. In other words: The NFL schedule usually does a good job of spreading around the lightweights, he said. In 2015, it didn't, Miller said.

We know the Falcons had an "easy" schedule. But as it turns out, their 2015 schedule was historically easy. In short, some smart guys at Rutgers did some complicated analysis. They found that the NFL deviated from its normally careful approach to scheduling. By pitting them against the NFC East and AFC South, they gave the NFC South and AFC East a huge competitive advantage. Even with a new head coach and a less than ideal roster, the Falcons should've faired much better. Now go cry yourself to sleep.

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