Atlanta Falcons: A look at the five toughest games of 2019

    The goal for the Atlanta Falcons this season is simple, "Champs." In order to reach that goal, they must face one of the league's toughest schedules.

    The Atlanta Falcons have just one goal in mind for the 2019 NFL season. According to quarterback Matt Ryan, that goal for the season is “Champs.” Before training camp has even started the Falcons have set expectations high for the 2019 season, and rightfully so.

    But in order for the Falcons to reach that goal they must overcome some of the toughest games on their schedule. According to sportingnews.com, the Falcons have the joint seventh hardest schedule in the NFL for the 2019 NFL season. Let’s take a look at some of the toughest games on that schedule.

    Week 1 – Falcons at Minnesota Vikings

    Right out of the gate, Atlanta has a tough set of matchups, and this is the first of the firepower they will face in those first three weeks of the season. With a new coaching staff in place around Dan Quinn, everyone will be watching the team’s continuity and preparation, making this a crucial game no matter who the opponents are. If the team comes out sloppy, this game could get out of hand quick.

    It doesn’t help that Atlanta also plays a very talented Vikings team in Week 1 either. With questions about the teams bounce back already rising the Falcons must look to silence everyone with a strong win here. There is no telling how well the offense meshes early, and the Vikings defense will keep them on their toes. With an elite secondary and pass rushing duo, the Vikings are going to challenge the Falcons offense the whole game.

    Week 3 – Falcons at Indianapolis Colts

    The Colts finished the 2019 season as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and they only got better this offseason with the additions of Parris Campbell and Justin Houston. Not only that but the young players across the roster add depth and talent to the team. With Andrew Luck having more talent around him than perhaps ever, you could see a truly great season come out of him, once again.

    A loss here wouldn’t be critical to the Atlanta Falcons season but showing they can beat a potential playoff team early is a good sign for the rest of the season.

    Week 7 – Falcons vs. Los Angles Rams

    Of course, one of Atlanta’s hardest games come at home to the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams. With a high-powered offense and top tier coach, the Rams can do a lot of damage against any opponent they face. Luckily for the Falcons, a game plan for beating the Rams has been laid out by the Patriots, but will that game plan still work or has Sean McVay learned from his mistakes?

    If the latter is true, then the only way to beat the Rams is to outscore them, and that may take a lot of points to do so. This team certainly is one of the toughest opponents the Falcons face on their schedule, but an important one in the middle of the season.

    Week 10 – Falcons at New Orleans Saints

    Coming out of their bye week the Falcons start a rough stretch of five consecutive division games with the Saints. As usual, the Saints are projected to be one of the best teams in the league, and this game should be extra hard for the Falcons. After losing to the Saints both times last year, the Falcons will look for a rebound here. Typically, this is a high scoring game, and 2019 should be no different. Both teams are well equipped with offensive firepower and quarterbacks to score and score often at that. Last year the Falcons shot themselves in the foot in New Orleans, and they will be looking to put that right in a big way.

    Despite the potential of a high scoring game, the winner will most likely be determined by the better defense of the two. Both teams will be rested entering this match, and could very well be fighting for first in the division at this point if the season if all is going to plan.

    Week 14 – Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers

    This game comes at a crunch time in the season for Atlanta. With such a competitive division around them, the playoffs and division could be at stake. To make matters worse, this game ends the previously mentioned five-game stretch of division rivals they face.

    Dating back to 2016, Atlanta has had good showings against the Panthers. Out of those six games, they have a 5-1 record. During those games, the lowest points the Falcons have scored is 17, in that one game they lost.

    A good track record versus the Panthers is positive and something to be confident about down the stretch, but with a healthy Cam Newton, this team can be very dangerous. On the defensive side of the ball, the team also improved with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Brian Burns along the defensive line. With Dontari Poe on that defensive line as well the Falcons offensive line will have a lot to handle when they face off against this very talented defensive line group.

    Hunter Neel is a writer for PFN covering the Atlanta Falcons. You can follow him @hunterneel_ on twitter. 

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