The Atlanta Falcons 2020 regular-season schedule was released Thursday night. While we've known the opponents since the end of the 2019 season, now we finally get to see when the Falcons will play these games.
So, what did the Falcons schedule reveal to us exactly? Well, I came up with a long list of tidbits before narrowing it down to these eight.
Number of times Falcons have opened a season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Until the 2020 season kicks off, that is. The Falcons will kick off the regular season by hosting the Seattle Seahawks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 13. It will be the first time the Falcons have hosted a season-opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In case you're wondering, the Falcons' first official game played there was an exhibition game vs. Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 26, 2017. And the first regular-season NFL game played there was Sept. 17, 2017, when they played the Green Bay Packers in the home-opener (pictured above).
Falcons will make the first-ever visit to LA's new SoFi Stadium
SoFi Stadium is a new state-of-the-art indoor-outdoor stadium in Inglewood, Calif., that will serve as the new home for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. It's reportedly scheduled to be completed this summer and ready for the coming NFL season. The Falcons are scheduled to head West for a Dec. 13 showdown against the Chargers. The game also marks the beginning of a stretch where the Falcons play three of their final four games on the road.
Number of times Falcons play back-to-back road games
The NFL schedule-makers were kind to the Falcons (we think), at least when it comes to long stretches away from home. The Falcons only play back-to-back road games once all season long and do not play more than two games in a row at all. There is somewhat of a catch to that, though. Atlanta will play three of its final four games on the road and the two back-to-back games will be against Patrick Mahomes's Chiefs and Tom Brady's Bucs to close out the regular season on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3.
Number of prime-time games Falcons will appear in
The Falcons will play in two nationally televised games in prime time this season. The first will be an Oct. 5 showdown against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on "Monday Night Football." Then in Week 8, they head up to Charlotte to square off against their NFC South rivals, the Carolina Panthers, on "Thursday Night Football." The Falcons have won three of their last four games against the Packers, but all of those have come in Atlanta. They are 0-3 in their last three trips to Lambeau Field, including a 34-20 loss during their most recent visit, which was on Dec. 9, 2018.
Number of times Falcons play the Saints and Bucs in seven-week span
The Falcons are no strangers when it comes to playing division games late in the season. In 2019, the Falcons played all six of their NFC South games during the final eight games of the season. This season the Falcons will play both the Saints and the Bucs twice in three-week spans following the Week 10 bye.
Number of weeks before the Falcons have their bye
There's a pattern developing here lately with the Falcons bye week. This year, the Falcons will take their off week in Week 10, following a home game against the Broncos on Nov. 8 and before an away game in New Orleans on Nov. 22. In 2019, the Falcons' bye came in Week 9. In 2018, the bye came in Week 8. And in 2017, the Falcons' bye came in Week 5. The last time Atlanta's bye came this late in the season was back in 2016, when it came in Week 11. I'd say things worked out OK that year.
Number of Lombardi Trophies won by opposing quarterbacks
The list of opposing quarterbacks the Falcons will square off against in 2020 is an impressive one. Ten of them of them have combined for 48 Pro Bowls selections. That's a lot of talent. But five of them – Russell Wilson (1), Aaron Rodgers (1), Drew Brees (1), Tom Brady (6) and Patrick Mahomes (1) – have combined to win 10 Lombardi Trophies. That's impressive.
Strength of schedule ranking (win projections)
If you look at the NFL strength of schedule ranking based on 2019 records, the Falcons have the fifth-most difficult schedule in the league (they're actually tied with the Bills and Lions, whose opponents also have a combined win percentage of .525). But as we all know, teams change A LOT during the offseason, especially after free agency and the NFL Draft. That's why I like the rankings list compiled by Jared Dubin of CBSSports.com (a former co-worker and friend of mine), who used win-loss projections in 2020 for his rankings. The Falcons, not surprisingly, had the toughest schedule. The combined win percentage of Atlanta's opponents here was .535.