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What is the best possible 2020 schedule for the Falcons?

Trying to suss out the schedule that gives the Falcons the best chance to compete.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

We’re expecting the 2020 NFL schedule release later this week, so we’ll soon find out when the Falcons will be playing their games, assuming the regular season schedule sticks to the number of weeks and start time it’s supposed to.

Ideally, the Falcons would hit the Panthers early while they’re finding their footing and get the Buccaneers and Saints later in the season, when their ancient quarterbacks might be breaking down a bit. They’d balance their home and away games so there are no long, exhausting road trips, and they’d get a bye that isn’t too early in the year.

Here’s my early morning stab at an “ideal” schedule for these Falcons, because they won’t let me take the Chiefs off the slate.

Week 1: vs. Carolina Panthers

Week 2: vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Week 3: @ Green Bay Packers

Week 4: @ Minnesota Vikings

Week 5: vs. Chicago Bears

Week 6: vs. Detroit Lions

Week 7: @ Carolina Panthers

Week 8: @ Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: @ Kansas City Chiefs

Week 11: @ Dallas Cowboys

Week 12: vs. Denver Broncos

Week 13: vs. Seattle Seahawks

Week 14: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 15: @ New Orleans Saints

Week 16: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 17: New Orleans Saints

There are a few reasons I chose this. Starting the season off against the Panthers, who look like they’re going to struggle this year, is a nice boost, and following it up with a talented but in flux Raiders team should give them the opportunity to start 2-0 if all goes well. Following that up with two tough road games earlier in the year when the weather is warmer (which matters more in Green Bay’s case) is a good opportunity to test their mettle, and then they get the two easier teams in the NFC North. Pre-bye they knock off two of their easier road games against the Panthers and rookie QB-led Chargers.

Coming out of that bye, it’s time for two difficult road games while they’re hopefully well rested. There’s simply no good time to put a Chiefs road game on the calendar, but I’d rather here than anywhere else. Home games against the Broncos and Seahawks follow, and then they knock off all four Tampa Bay and New Orleans games to finish off the season, allowing them to play Drew Brees and Tom Brady when they’re either broken down or have clinched and have less to play for. On the whole schedule, there’s never more than a two game road swing. There are difficult stretches—playing teams like the Chiefs, Cowboys, Vikings, and Packers will do that—but I think this gives Atlanta a solid shot at the postseason if they show up to play.

I don’t expect this to be everyone’s ideal structure, so go nuts debating it in the comments.