I’m honestly a bit excited to see what the 2020 Falcons schedule is going to look like when it’s released later tonight. Football is one of the things I can still possibly look forward to this fall, after all, and getting a sense of what this retooling Falcons team might be up against is a big part of figuring out how they might finish in 2020.
Unfortunately for Atlanta and this fanbase, though, it’s unlikely to be the kind of cupcake schedule that virtually guarantees a bounceback, no matter how the NFL ends up configuring the schedule.
The five most difficult schedules for the 2020 NFL season according to @SportsLine Advanced Data:— Allan Bell (@AllanBell247) May 7, 2020
*Data based on average projected winning percentage of 2020 opponentshttps://t.co/fAaZXr1wKw pic.twitter.com/IkWi2Vc9WS
Caveats include the fact that this is just a projection, that it’s based on average projected win totals, and the obvious fact that once the games start, there will be an expected juggernaut or two on this schedule who will fall short of expectations. That’s just the way it goes in the NFL every year, and that’s the way it will continue to go.
For all that, though, it’s not hard to understand why this promises to be tough sledding for the Falcons. They have the Chiefs and some blossoming teams in the AFC, the Packers and Vikings alongside the retooling Bears and Lions, and the misfortune of facing a very good Cowboys team and likely solid Seahawks team due to their divisional finish. Sprinkle in the hot Super Bowl pick Buccaneers and the unfortunately terrific Saints and you get a sense of what Atlanta’s up against, and why their slate is expected per these projections to post the highest win percentage in the NFL.
That’s not to suggest that the order of games won’t matter, because a well-placed bye and avoiding rough road games outdoors in winter will still make a difference for the Falcons. It’s just to suggest that no matter what schedule the NFL unveils tonight, Atlanta’s going to have to scratch and claw for every win in a year where the prevailing sentiment is playoffs or bust.