The Falcons haven't had fewer true regular season home games than they did last year. Not in a 16-game slate, anyway.
They "hosted" a game in London last year – as they did in 2014 – dropping the number of regular-season games played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium down to seven.
This year, for the first time ever, they'll have nine.
An additional home game comes every other year as part of the relatively new 17-game schedule, first implemented last year. The odd number of games creates disparity in home and road games, which can play a factor in a team's overall record.
That, of course, depends on how they play at home vs. the road – the Falcons were a solid road team last year and actually didn't fare as well inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons want to reverse that trend in Arthur Smith's second season, and would be aided by a raucous home crowd given something positive to cheer about.
They'll have an extra opportunity this season, with that ninth home game playing a factor in how this season plays out. The 17th game is determined by standing within the division. They match up with a team of equal 2021 division standing from outside the conference.
The L.A Chargers are the extra opponent. The Bolts, like the Falcons, finished third in their division and are therefore headed to Atlanta. Justin Herbert, Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa will play the Falcons on Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In addition to home-and-homes against NFC South opponents, the Falcons will also play the entire NFC West and AFC North divisions. The remaining three opponents are the Chargers and teams of equal division standing with NFC teams outside the west, as the Falcons are playing that entire division.
While the Chargers are a good team with tons of star power, they'll have to come across the country and play a 10 a.m. PT body clock game, situations where West Coast teams often fare worse. Having that game at home is far better than the Falcons having to make another cross country trip, especially when they're already set to play the L.A. Rams and Seattle Seahawks on the road.
Can they take advantage of the extra home game? Can they fare better at home than they did a year ago. Doing both of those things will be integral to exceeding expectations in 2022.