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First impressions of the 2022 Falcons schedule

It’s a tough slate, so the Falcons will have to be tough, too.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

A schedule rarely is exactly what it seems when it’s announced. For the 2022 Falcons, we’re going to hope that it’s nothing like it seems.

Atlanta’s at an interesting crossroads at the moment, with a pretty successful offseason bringing them an improving roster and plenty of cap space looming to make big changes in 2023. In the here and now, though, this team’s question marks on both sides of the ball still outstrip their answers, and they’ll have to figure things out while facing a schedule that looked very tough

With a few days to digest that schedule, here’s our early impression of what’s ahead, including the easiest and hardest matchups and the game we’re looking forward to most.

Dave Choate

Hardest game: Week 2 @ Rams

Easiest matchup: Week 11 vs. Bears

Game you’re most looking forward to: Week 1 vs. Saints

Overall schedule impression: Tough

If the Falcons are going to do anything of note in 2022—if they’re going to be anything of note—we’ll know pretty quickly. They host the hated Saints in Week 1 and immediately fly out to the West Coast to face the defending Super Bowl champion and whatever the hell the Seahawks are now, and they follow that up with three games against the talented Browns, the Buccaneers, and the 49ers. If they come out of that stretch at 3-3 or better, you can talk yourself into any number of things for the final 11 games of the season, even if there are plenty of brutal matchups in that stretch too.

This is a tough slate on paper. If the Falcons can do more with it than just provide a few fun efforts on their way to a pivotal 2023 offseason, it’ll be an impressive sign for the future and a welcome reprieve from years of middling football. Let’s see what they’ve built this offseason.

Matt Chambers

Hardest game: Week 5 @ Bucs

Easiest matchup: Week 11 vs. Bears

Game you’re most looking forward to: Week 1 vs. Saints

Overall schedule impression: Big yikes

The schedule release prediction is usually a time full of optimism. It may be one of the peak times for all fan bases, with each team killing it free agency and landing all of their top options in the draft. Coaches are full of off season tough talk. The real problems don’t pop up until teams have to perform.

This year feels a lot different. The Falcons are clearly at the start of a major rebuild. This year the starting quarterback is a backup, the offensive line is the worst in the league, the top wide receiver is a rookie, the top running back is on the wrong side of 30, and the defense may be worse than the offense. There is potential there but the Falcons need a lot of things to break the team’s way. The schedule didn’t do that. There may be one decent stretch in the whole schedule (@ Carolina, vs. Chicago, @ Washington, and vs. Pittsburgh before a very late bye week). This may be the toughest initial schedule I recall in the last decade.

Evan Birchfield

Hardest game: Week 2 @ Rams

Easiest matchup: Week 8 vs. Panthers

Game you’re most looking forward to: Week 7 @ Bengals

Overall schedule impression: BUCKLE UP!

Looking at the opponents before the schedule was released, I felt that it was extremely tough. Now that it’s been revealed when exactly we will play our 2022 opponents, I still feel that it’s extremely tough. First off, the Bye Week for the Falcons is Week 14. In a now 17-game season, that is very late into the season. By Week 13, will this team be limping along on low energy? We shall see.

Another thing is that the Falcons don’t really have any bad weather games, luckily for them. Playing at Washington and at Baltimore late in the schedule is about the worst weather they will have to deal with. Overall, I don’t know how this season is going to shake up, there’s just too many questions about this roster that won’t be answered until September.

What’s your impression of the schedule?

Will McFadden

Hardest game: Week 9 vs. Chargers

Easiest matchup: Week 3 @ Seahawks

Game you’re most looking forward to: Week 4 vs. Browns

Overall schedule impression: Ya hate to see it

There’s a moment in the popular novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where the titular character is preparing to select a model replica of a dragon out of a bag. He is in the midst of a competition between schools and the schools’ chosen competitors are choosing the dragon they will then have to try and steal an egg from. Everyone is aware that there is one dragon - the Hungarian Horntail - that is easily the most dangerous of the group, and so Harry only becomes more dismayed as the other competitors avoid picking that particular statue. Of course, Harry ends up with the Hungarian Horntail, and I have to imagine Falcons leadership felt that same level of daunting resignation when they laid eyes on their 2022 slate.

It starts hard and by the time the level of competition begins to ease up, I believe fatique and injuries will become a major factor. The Week 14 bye week won’t give the Falcons an opportunity to re-orient themselves at some point midway through the year. Any lineup changes will have to be made on the fly and on top of the preparation demands of a normal game week. And the team will probably face questions about the quarterback situation earlier than they would have otherwise liked because there’s a real chance the Falcons are looking at a 2-5 or 1-6 start.

That’s not to say I think Atlanta is worthy of a record that poor out of the gates. I think they could easily be better this year than they were last year but still finish with a worse record. Any contender would look at this schedule and think - woof. The Falcons drew the Hungarian Horntail, and they’ll need a bit of magic to make it out on the other side.