FLOWERY BRANCH, GA --The National Football League today released the 2010 regular season schedule. This year, Atlanta's schedule includes two prime time games, including a Thursday night contest against the Baltimore Ravens on NFL Network (Week 10) and an ESPN Monday Night Football matchup with the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome (Week 16).
The Falcons will face NFC South Division rivals, Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay twice this season while battling the NFC West and AFC North divisions. Atlanta will also travel to NFC East rival, Philadelphia, in Week 6 and host NFC North foe, Green Bay, in Week 12.
Along with competing against the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints on two occasions, the Falcons will matchup with five 2009 NFL playoff teams including Arizona (Week 2), Philadelphia (Week 6), Cincinnati (Week 7), Baltimore (Week 10) and Green Bay (12).
"This season's schedule is a demanding one, however, we are excited to take on the challenge," said Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith. "We'll be tested right out of the gate with a road meeting at Pittsburgh followed by a home contest against Arizona and a trip to New Orleans. I'm looking forward to the Georgia Dome atmosphere with our two prime time games against Baltimore and New Orleans as well."
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The Falcons take to the road in the season opener for the first time since 2007 (Minnesota). In the last visit Atlanta made to Pittsburgh in 2002, both teams battled to a 34-34 tie. The Falcons won the last contest held at the Georgia Dome between the two teams (2006) in a shootout by a 41-38 margin.
Atlanta opens the home slate with a Week 2 meeting against Arizona. The Falcons had pieced together four consecutive victories from 1999-2006, before the Cardinals defeated Atlanta in a 2007 regular season contest and a 2008 NFL Playoff Wild Card matchup.
Week 3 features a trip to New Orleans as the Falcons battle the Super Bowl Champion Saints for the first of two games between the two teams this year. The series between these rivals is close as Atlanta holds a 44-35 advantage, dating back to the first contest (1967).
The Falcons return home to battle San Francisco in Week 4. Last season, Atlanta defeated the 49ers by a 45-10 margin in San Francisco to increase its regular season record to 3-1. In that game, quarterback Matt Ryan threw for a career-high 329 yards and wide receiver Roddy White set a franchise single-game receiving record with 210 yards on eight receptions.
Atlanta heads to the road in Weeks 5 and 6 to take on Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively. The Falcons will look to halt a Browns winning streak that sits at two games, with the last win coming in 2006. The Falcons and Eagles have met on five occasions in the last five years, which includes an NFC Championship Game matchup in 2005. Atlanta last defeated Philadelphia in the 2005 regular season home opener on Monday Night Football by a 14-10 margin.
Cincinnati will travel to the Georgia Dome in Week 7 in the first game between the two teams since 2006. The Falcons have won the last two matchups (2002, '06) by a combined score of 59-30.
Following a Week 8 bye, Atlanta will play host to Tampa Bay for the first of two meetings. Last season, the Falcons swept the Buccaneers in the season series for the first time since 2006. The season finale win over Tampa in 2009 solidified back-to-back winning seasons for Atlanta for the first time in team history.
The Falcons will kickoff the NFL Network Thursday Night Football schedule with a home contest against the Baltimore Ravens. Atlanta won the lone series meeting between the two teams at the Georgia Dome with a 20-17 win in 2002.
Week 11 brings a road trip to St. Louis, as the Falcons battle their old rival for the third time in the last four years. Atlanta defeated the Rams in the last meeting by a 31-27 margin as running back Michael Turner topped the 200-yard rushing plateau (208 yards) for the second time that season.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visit the Dome in Week 12. The Falcons have won two of the last three meetings against the Packers, including a 2008 matchup at Lambeau Field (27-24).
The Falcons take to the road for three consecutive weeks (Weeks 13-15) with contests at Tampa Bay, Carolina and Seattle. Atlanta holds an 18-12 series lead over the Panthers and will host Carolina three weeks later in the season finale. The Falcons make their first trip to Seattle since 2005. The Seahawks lead the all-time series, however, Atlanta claimed a victory in the last meeting between the two teams in 2007 (44-41).
Atlanta closes the season at home with two division opponents, the first coming against New Orleans on Monday Night Football (Week 16) followed by Carolina in the season finale. The Falcons have not closed the season with two division opponents since 2005.
2010 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE