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Atlanta Falcons 2016 NFL schedule: Dates, game times, strength of schedule, and thoughts

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Here's what you need to know about the schedule, the team's primetime games, projected wins, and more.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons' 2016 season schedule has arrived, and we now know exactly how things will line up for this team, which finished 8-8 a year ago and will have to search for improvement against a tougher slate of opponents.

Here's the full 2016 Falcons schedule.

Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers  (September 11, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 2: @Oakland Raiders (September 18, 4:25 p.m. EST)
Week 3: @New Orleans Saints (September 26, 8:30 p.m. EST, Monday Night Football)
Week 4: Carolina Panthers (October 2, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 5: @Denver Broncos (October 9, 4 p.m. EST)
Week 6: @Seattle Seahawks (October 16, 4:25 p.m. EST)
Week 7: San Diego Chargers (October 23, 4:05 p.m. EST)
Week 8: Green Bay Packers (October 30, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 9: @Tampa Bay Buccaneers (November 3, 8:25 p.m. EST, Thursday Night Football)
Week 10: @Philadelphia Eagles (November 13, 1 p.m. EST
Week 11: BYE WEEK
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals (November 27, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs (December 4, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 14: @Los Angeles Rams (December 11, 4:25 p.m. EST)
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers (December 18, 4:05 p.m. EST)
Week 16: @Carolina Panthers (December 24, 1 p.m. EST)
Week 17: New Orleans Saints (January 1, 1 p.m. EST)

All in all, this is a difficult schedule. The stretch against the Panthers, Broncos, and Seahawks in a row could be murder, and the Chargers, Packers, Buccaneers, and Eagles follow that before the Falcons hit their bye. Aside from that three game stretch, though, it's at least manageable if this team is legitimately better than it was a year ago. I guess we'll find out.

Primetime games: 2

The Falcons grab a Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football game this year. The Monday Night game is on the road against the Saints, which has been...problematic at times. We'll hope for a win there. The Thursday Night game is also on the road against the Buccaneers, and it could be a color rush game, if you're a fan of blinding reds.

Over/under win total: 8.5

Back in February, the oddsmakers with CG Technology set this for the Falcons, and it seems appropriate for a team I think will settle right in at 8 or 9 wins in 2016.

Strength of schedule: DIFFICULT

One of the hardest in the league, as a matter of fact!

Falcons preseason schedule

Week 1: Washington Redskins, Time & Date TBD
Week 2: @Cleveland Browns, August 18, 8 p.m. EST
Week 3: @Miami Dolphins, Thursday, August 25, 8 p.m. EST
Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, September 1, Time TBD

2017 Falcons schedule

Home: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Minnesota, Buffalo, Miami, NFC East

Away: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Detroit, New England, NY Jets, NFC West

2018 Falcons schedule

Home: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Dallas, NY Giants, Baltimore, Cincinnati, NFC West

Away: Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, NFC North