The Atlanta Falcons finished this past season with a 13-3 record and a defensive collapse short of the Super Bowl but may not have the same success next season.
After a season where Atlanta faced a slew of under .500 teams, that probably will not be the case next season. Along with playing their rivals in the NFC South, the Falcons will also have to contend with the NFC West and the AFC East. One thing is for sure, NFL analysts will not be able to say Atlanta played as weak schedule as many argued this past season. Atlanta’s schedule will feature five playoff teams, four division champions and winners of the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers.
Aside from facing the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks again, the Falcons will also have to face the Green Bay Packers. All of these teams could become new rivals for Atlanta, as each of these teams will definitely be in the playoff hunt. The Falcons will also have to run the mobile quarterback gauntlet again, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, and they will face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins again. Atlanta fans can only hope their defense will be up to the challenge.
The NFC South will be much improved as well, specifically the New Orleans Saints; there is no way Drew Brees and crew finish 7-9 again. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers should definitely be in contention for a playoff spot as well. To add to an already tough schedule, Atlanta will face the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Seahawks. Each of those teams will be better as well and even if they are not, they will still be formidable opponents. Oh yeah, Atlanta will play the New York Jets too; although depending on how their season is going, Rex Ryan’s interviews could be the only real entertainment involved.
Atlanta’s 2013 campaign could go either way; they could either be one of the best teams in the league, a mediocre 8-8 or a big disappointment all together. One thing is certain; Atlanta will definitely have to live up to that “Rise Up” moniker if they plan on having any kind of success.