The 2019 Atlanta Falcons season is just under 100 days away, kicking off in Minnesota against the Vikings. Narratives and story lines naturally make their way into any team’s schedule, and there are a few games on the 2019 docket that should be accompanied by one word: revenge.
Last year did not come close to the Falcons’ expectations, ending with a too-little-too-late winning streak, a whimper, and the first losing record in Dan Quinn’s tenure as Atlanta’s head coach. They may not say it outright, but revenge should be on the minds of many Falcons players, and their desire for on-field retribution will focus on the following cities: Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco.
Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia is an accursed place. It was the site of last season’s opening loss, and the location where things began tumbling down around the Falcons. Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and Devonta Freeman went down with injuries that soggy night at Lincoln Financial Field, serving as an ill omen for what the remainder of the season had in store.
Thankfully this season’s match-up with the Eagles will take place right at home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and it’s safe to say that the Falcons circled this one on the schedule when it was released. From the devastating 15-10 loss in the Divisional Round of the 2017 playoffs to what transpired in the first game of 2018, the Atlanta Falcons are itching to rid themselves of the Philadelphia dark cloud that’s been trailing them for the last two years.
Week 10: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Falcons-Saints clashes are already wrought with emotion, but after getting swept by the Saints last season, expect there to be some extra edge in this first meeting — especially after the Saints ruined Thanksgiving.
Last year’s primetime game on Turkey Day was an abject disaster — a migraine-inducing, blood pressure-elevating affair that made you wish you had succumbed to your early evening tryptophan coma. The Falcons squandered three scoring opportunities with three fumbles near the goal line, each possession akin to visual heartburn. Thanksgiving came to a close on a sour note to the tune of a 31-17 loss against Atlanta’s most hated rival.
With that nationally televised embarrassment still fresh in their minds, the Falcons will head into this one with added motivation to avenge 2018’s two losses to the Saints.
Week 15: Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers
This will be the Falcons’ first meeting with the Kyle Shanahan-led 49ers, and running up the score should be a top-of-mind priority. Running is the key word here.
Shanahan’s time in Atlanta ignominiously ended with extremely questionable play-calling in Super Bowl 51, and regardless of press statements about ‘being over it’ or ‘moving on,’ make no mistake: The Falcons should head into this one looking to bury Kyle Shanahan’s team. It won’t take away any of the neverending bitterness of Atlanta’s Super Bowl loss, but it will be an emotional, cathartic exercise at the very least. Exorcising the demons of Kyle Shanahan has to happen, preferably to the tune of a 40-burger — and primarily on the ground.