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2017 Falcons schedule: What’s the roughest stretch for Atlanta?

And will Julio Jones wreak havoc during that stretch (hint: yes).

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve got less than a week to go until the NFL Draft, but what I want to talk about today is the schedule. Let’s think about the season as long as we can before the draft takes over our lives for a week or so.

One question looms large for Falcons fans hoping for a repeat playoff run: What’s the toughest stretch on the schedule, and how much of a roadblock will it prove to be for the Falcons?

For me, as tempting as it is to point to an always unpredictable run of games in the NFC South at the end of the year, it’s the post-bye stretch that looms largest here. The Falcons have three consecutive road games against the Patriots, Jets (easy) and Panthers, a single primetime home game against the Cowboys, and then another road game against the Seahawks. You can also include the home games against the Bucs and Vikings, which immediately follow that stretch, but at least they’re home at that point.

If the Falcons walk out of that stretch of five games at 3-2 or even 4-1—I’d love to say 5-0, but beating the Pats, Cowboys, and Seahawks is a tall order for any team—we’ll know we can feel pretty great about how they’ll wrap things up. For what it’s worth, I think they’ll be able to handle that just fine, with the Pats and Seahawks figuring to be the most problematic matchups by far.

What’s your pick for the toughest stretch?