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2016 Falcons schedule: Toughest game, easiest game, and our predictions

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Our staff weighs in on the Falcons' 2016 slate.

Dave Choate

Easiest Game: San Francisco 49ers, Week 15

They're a mess, they'll need more than one offseason to rebuild, and the Falcons are at home. Assuming Atlanta's healthy, this is the most obvious W on the schedule.

Toughest Game: Seattle Seahawks, Week 6

The Falcons just don't match up extremely well with a physical, disciplined Seattle team, particularly because their pass rush is not yet good enough to take advantage of the team's truly lackluster offensive line. Seattle is coming off their bye week and will probably dismantle the Falcons, unfortunately.

Thoughts: This schedule didn't stack up in an impossible way, but the bye comes pretty late in the season, there's an unforgiving stretch or two here, and the Falcons have a tough slate of opponents, assuming these teams don't drop off significantly from their 2015 forms. I'm thinking this will be an improved Atlanta team, but it may not be enough to earn them a winning season.

Overall Prediction: 8-8

Allen Strk

Easiest Game: San Francisco 49ers, Week 15

Besides Cleveland, San Francisco may have the worst roster in the NFL. Atlanta won't forget about last year's debacle, as it was the start of their collapse. The 49ers have no identity offensively, and all of their defensive playmakers are essentially retired or on other teams at this point. Atlanta should have no problem winning this one.

Toughest game: Seattle Seahawks, Week 6

It's bad enough that Seattle is coming off a bye. While they're resting, Atlanta will be battling Denver's vicious defense on the road. The back-to-back West coast games against elite defenses is a bad recipe for them. Although Seattle's offensive line can be exploited, Atlanta doesn't have enough playmakers offensively (on paper) to move the ball downfield consistently against premier defenses.

Thoughts: It's impossible to make a justifiable prediction in April, so until early September, I'm not going to make any official prediction. With the ridiculous schedule, it's hard to see Atlanta improving as a team this season. They do play difficult teams at home in Arizona and Green Bay. The main issue consists of how many quality teams are on the Falcons' schedule. Teams like San Diego and Green Bay are going to be much better offensively this year. With the issues at linebacker and safety, it's hard to see this defense taking the next step to being a respectable unit. Matt Ryan needs to drastically bounce back for this team to have any chance at earning a wild card spot.

Prediction: 6-10 to 9-7 range

Kendall Jackson

Easiest Game: San Diego Chargers, Week 7

The Chargers don't have much on offense besides Philip Rivers, and despite him having a decent year last season, the team still finished last in the AFC West with a 4-12 record. San Diego doesn't have much on defense to worry about, either. Both teams may be a year or two from truly competing, but this is a game Atlanta should take relatively easily in the Georgia Dome.

Toughest Game: Denver Broncos, Week 5

The Falcons get a shot at the defending Super Bowl champions, and they have to head out to the West Coast to do so. Denver's defense propelled the team to a championship, and while that unit lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, it should still rank as one of the league's best. The Broncos still don't have a quarterback, but they didn't have one last year, either.

Thoughts: The Falcons may look like a better team, but the improvement won't show up in the win column with the brutal schedule.

Overall Prediction: 7-9

The DW

Easiest Game: San Francisco 49ers, Week 15

The 49ers were actively shopping their QB who once got them to a Super Bowl. The only other option on their roster is Blaine Gabbert. Their once amazing defense has aged to the point of irrelevance and the most interesting thing about them is their head coach, who just got done decimating the Philadelphia Eagles roster in just one season. The 49ers would be a laughing stock if anyone cared about them anymore.

Toughest Game: Carolina Panthers, Week 16

More than anything, this game comes late in the season, which could mean playoff ramifications for both teams. It's also in Carolina, which makes for an even more hostile environment. Carolina is still the team to beat in the division, and this has all the makings of a very difficult game for the Falcons.

Thoughts: The strength of schedule experts say the Falcons have one of the hardest schedules this year. While it does look like a rough run of teams, I believe the Falcons will improve in some very key areas - namely, the trenches. The offensive line got a huge boost in signing Alex Mack and the defensive line is beginning to develop some decent depth, with young guys like Grady Jarrett hopefully taking another step forward. There are some tough teams, but I truly believe this Falcons team will improve in 2016 and edge out some surprising wins. Call me an optimist, but I'm once again looking forward to a good season.

Overall Prediction: 10-6

Jason Kirk

Easiest Game: Lord help us. Having the Saints in town on New Year's is gonna be ATL's biggest cluster outside of either the Let's Schedule Every Random National Event For Labor Day And Have Future Also Put On A Surprise Show And Also The Braves Are Probably Playing Here weekend.

Toughest Game: Can you imagine if LSU is in the College Football Playoff at the Peach Bowl the day before? The Georgia Dome will go to its grave knowing its last two days were extremely Louisiana through and through. I'm queasy already.

Thoughts: We just cannot let these people outdrink us on our own turf on New Year's Eve.

Overall Prediction: I can't even begin to dread the other Saints game yet, or the other 14 games. Give me a moment to finish pondering the outcomes of this one. 9-7.

Jake Bennett

Easiest Game: vs. San Francisco 49ers, Week 15

This could also easily be the Eagles, but I'm giving the edge to the 49ers being the easiest matchup simply because Atlanta will be in familiar territory here. The Niners are more or less in turmoil with their QB situation, and Atlanta should play better than the last time. Hopefully.

Toughest Game: @ Carolina Panthers, Week 16

The reigning NFC champions will likely be eyeing a playoff spot or the division crown at this point in the season, and the Falcons will be hard pressed for a win here in Carolina. At an extremely early first glance, this is immediately written off as an L.

Thoughts: For those looking for a drastic improvement upon Dan Quinn's 2015 record, you'll probably be a little underwhelmed by the time January rolls around. However, I do believe the team has not lost any key pieces this offseason, added necessary talent during free agency, and will continue to improve with the draft in a few weeks.

Overall Prediction: 9-7

Caleb Rutherford

Easiest Game: San Francisco 49ers, Week 15

This game could just as easily be really difficult, depending on which version of Colin Kaepernick (if any) the Niners get this year. I don't think any of the games this year will be truly "easy" in the "We get the 2008 Lions" sense, but this one stands to have the easiest path to victory.

Toughest Game: @Seattle Seahawks, Week 6

This game comes after an away game at Denver, which will likely be the first of two beatings of Matt Ryan in a row. The Seahawks will continue to be a playoff contender this year and this could serve as a metric to just how much this team has improved, if at all. They have one of the best home field advantages in pro sports, so a win here would be an incredible boost to team morale.

Thoughts: There's Always Next Year

I have a tough time seeing this team make it through this schedule unscathed. It's just too difficult. The team will show marked improvement this year, but it won't come in the form of wins just yet. I hate to say "Wait until 2017", but that's going to be what it boils down to.

Overall Prediction: 8-8