Welcome to the NFL schedule release, when our excitement for a season which is still months away gets renewed yet again, as it was during the draft and as it will be when training camp rolls around.
We now know the exact dates of when each team will be playing, and within those dates I would like to take a bit of a nuanced approach in viewing the schedule.
While it’s true that the Falcons will play 17 games in 18 weeks just like everyone else, not all weeks will be the same when factoring rest and recovery into the equation. In this article, the second edition of a schedule preview I started a year ago, we’ll take a look at which specific weeks will have the Birds disadvantaged due to the opposition having extra rest and when they will have more of an advantage.
First, for the purposes of this breakdown, let’s define what the terms “rest advantage” and “rest disadvantage” are.
A rest advantage is when the Falcons have more time to prepare than their opponent for a specific matchup than vice versa. This could be because their opposition is coming off of a Monday Night Football Game, because Atlanta is coming off of a bye week, and could in theory be when the Birds are coming off of a Thursday Night Football game and have an extra three days of rest, but we already know that they won’t be playing any games on Thursday this season. If the Falcons have at least one more day to prepare than their opponent, that will be classified as a “rest advantage” game.
As you may have guessed, a rest disadvantage is the exact opposite — it’s when the opponent has more time to prepare for their matchup against the Falcons. This could be because they are coming off of a bye week or their own Thursday Night Football Game. Once again speaking only theoretically, the Birds would be at a disadvantage if they were to be coming off of a Monday Night Football game, giving them one fewer day to recover and prepare, but they also have no MNF games on the schedule, either.
Last season, there were three games where Atlanta had the rest advantage and three games where they had a rest disadvantage. The Birds went 1-2 in both sets of those games. If you would like to read last season’s breakdown, you can find that here.
Before we begin, I would just like to say that this is not a season prediction article, nor will it predict any wins or losses. We will have months to ponder over that and I promise there will be plenty of predictions made in that time. This will specifically highlight just the games where the Falcons will have more rest than their opponent and the games where they will have less.
First, let’s take a look at this season’s schedule as a whole:
2023 Falcons Regular Season Schedule
Week 1: vs. Carolina Panthers, Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m.
Week 2: vs. Green Bay Packers, Sunday, September 17, 1 p.m.
Week 3: @ Detroit Lions, Sunday, September 24, 1 p.m.
Week 4: @ Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, October 1, 9:30 a.m. (In London!)
Week 5: vs. Houston Texans, Sunday, October 8, 1 p.m.
Week 6: vs. Washington Commanders, Sunday, October 15, 1 p.m.
Week 7: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, October 22, 1 p.m.
Week 8: @ Tennessee Titans, Sunday, October 29, 1 p.m.
Week 9: vs. Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, November 5, 1 p.m.
Week 10: @ Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, November 12, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Bye Week
Week 12: vs. New Orleans Saints, Sunday November 26, 1 p.m.
Week 13: @ New York Jets, Sunday, December 3, 1 p.m.
Week 14: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, December 10, 1 p.m.
Week 15: @ Carolina Panthers, TBD data and time
Week 16: vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, December 24, 1 p.m.
Week 17: @ Chicago Bears, Sunday, December 31, 1 p.m.
Week 18: @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday, January 7, time TBD
Let’s get into it, looking at some of the initially unseen quirks within this year’s schedule, and deciding whether those who made it favored the Birds or not.
Rest Advantage Weeks
This is defined as weeks when the Falcons will have a longer period of time to prepare for an opponent than their opponent will have to prepare for them.
The Falcons will not have a single game on the schedule where they will be at an extra advantage as far as rest and recovery is concerned.
Total Rest Advantage Time: 0 days
Rest Disadvantage Weeks
This is defined as weeks when the Falcons will have a shorter period of time to prepare for their opponent than their opponent will have to prepare for them.
Week 6: vs. Washington Commanders, Sunday, October 15, 1:00 p.m. ET - 3 days
The Commanders will be coming off of a Thursday Night Football game in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears. This will give them three extra days to prepare for the Falcons.
Week 8: @ Tennessee Titan, Sunday, October 29, 1:00 p.m. ET - 7 days
The worst possible scheduling quirk when you are on the other end of it — the Titans will be coming off of a Week 7 bye, giving them an extra full week to prepare for a Falcons team which will also have to travel up to Nashville for their second consecutive road game at that point. This matchup is the most disadvantaged the Falcons will be from a scheduling perspective.
Week 13: @ New York Jets, Sunday, December 3, 1:00 p.m. ET - 2 days
The Jets will be participating in the NFL’s inaugural Black Friday Game, against the Miami Dolphins, in Week 12. This will give them an extra two days of rest and preparation ahead of their matchup against the Falcons.
Total Rest Disadvantage Time: 12 days
Other Schedule Notes:
- Atlanta will not have any additional advantage against a direct opponent when it comes to their own bye week. Their week 12 opponent — the New Orleans Saints — will also be enjoying a Week 11 bye.
- The schedule makers were not kind to the Falcons when it comes to cold weather matchups. The only two road games on the schedule against potential “cold weather” opponents — the Bears and the Jets — will both be played in December. Note: I am not counting the Lions among this group because they play in a dome.
- Not counting the second matchups against the Panthers and Saints, against whom the time is yet to be determined, the Falcons will only have two games where they do not kick off at 1:00 p.m. eastern time — in Arizona (4:05 p.m.) and the London matchup against Jacksonville (9:30 a.m.).
- There are no west coast road trips for Atlanta as they have just one game against an NFC West team — the Cardinals — and no AFC West teams on the schedule. Arizona will be the furthest west the Falcons travel and they will have a bye week immediately afterward.
- While the Falcons will not have a bye week after their London trip (the early bye isn’t very advantageous either way), they will get the next best thing with back to back home games in the immediate aftermath.
- Because the London game (a neutral setting) is technically classified as a road game, the schedule will be perfectly balanced for the Falcons, with eight true home games and eight true road games. They will also only have one true road game (week 3 at Detroit) in the first six weeks of the season.