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The Falcons have the NFL’s 7th toughest schedule in 2019

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Atlanta’s schedule on paper is more difficult than last season.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

As the offseason lumbers along before it kicks into high gear with free agency and the run up to the 2019 NFL Draft, it presents time to take a closer look at what we already know about the upcoming season. We’re not privy to the official schedule as yet, but we do know who the Falcons home and road opponents will be — and now how their future slate of games stacks up with the rest of the league.

CBS Sports has released its strength of schedule rankings for the 2019 season, and the Falcons will enter the year tied with the Colts for the seventh-most difficult schedule. Atlanta’s opponents’ combined 2018 win percentage sits at .518, with a combined record of 132-123-1.

For recent comparison, the Falcons entered the 2018 season with the NFL’s 13th-most difficult schedule, with a combined opponents’ 2017 record of .508. The Falcons finished that injury marred year at 7-9 and second in the NFC South.

Those final three wins affected Atlanta’s strength of schedule just as it had an impact on draft standing: things got a bit more difficult. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ schedule sits tied for 12th and the Carolina Panthers’ are further down the list tied for 16th. The Falcons, of course, tallied wins over those divisional opponents to close out the season.

The 2019 docket appears a difficult one on paper, with road games against a pair of AFC South playoff teams in the Colts and Texans, and home tilts against playoff participants Seahawks and Rams — the latter the loser of Super Bowl LIII.

And then there’s the home and away clashes against the No. 1 NFC Seed Saints, who lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game.

There’s always surprises when the actual games are played, but as it stands now, the Atlanta Falcons are looking at a tougher road than last year.