By now, you’ve probably heard at least one person talk about difficult the Falcons’ schedule figures to be over their final seven games. It was always going to be imperative that Atlanta got off to a fast start in order to weather this last stretch, and their utter failure to do so is why it’s hard to believe they can push for a spot even in with an expanded playoff format coming.
Just how difficult is this remaining slate, though? Per NFL analyst Mike Clay, it’s the most difficult remaining seven games in the league, per strength of schedule.
It’s tough to quibble with that idea. The Falcons have to play the stellar Chiefs, a very strong Saints team, the capable Buccaneers, and high-flying offenses in the Chargers and Raiders. There’s not a gimme on the schedule for Atlanta, in other words, and if Atlanta didn’t have a history of beating their division rivals you’d struggle to see more than a couple of opportunities for victories in here. Four of those games are on the road.
The Falcons have the talent and recently the results to indicate that they’ll be able to put up a genuine fight over that stretch, but any crazy optimism that we all might be feeling does need to be balanced against the reality that this is not going to be easy. The Falcons did something surprising—even spectacular—in the second half of the 2019 season, and I’ll be the last person to tell you that the Falcons can’t do something that seems impossible. Just don’t expect it to be easy, because nothing with the Falcons ever is, and this schedule sure as hell isn’t.