Atlanta Falcons' 2014 Schedule: Road Back To Playoffs Will Be A Difficult One

By Ryan Ratty
NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL released the 2014 season schedule late Wednesday night, and the Atlanta Falcons now get a chance to see who they will be playing in the upcoming season. Right now, Thomas Dimitroff and co. are planning for the NFL Draft on May 8. It is clear that the Falcons will most likely draft in the trenches in the first round. The Falcons have a star-studded offense led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White. If Atlanta can upgrade its defense, there is no reason why the Falcons can’t make a deep run in the playoffs. Regardless, the Falcons will have a tough road to the playoffs with their schedule.

Here is Atlanta’s full schedule for the upcoming season:

Week 1: New Orleans Saints

Week 2: At Cincinnati Bengals

Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 4: At Minnesota Vikings

Week 5: At New York Giants

Week 6: Chicago Bears

Week 7: At Baltimore Ravens

Week 8: Detroit Lions (In London)

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: At Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 11: At Carolina Panthers

Week 12: Cleveland Browns

Week 13: Arizona Cardinals

Week 14: At Green Bay Packers

Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 16: At New Orleans Saints

Week 17: Carolina Panthers

The Falcons will be playing in a competitive NFC North in 2014. Despite being subpar in 2013, the Buccaneers have a new regime led by Lovie Smith and a lot of talent at the skill positions. The Panthers don’t have any starter-level receivers, but they had one of their best seasons in franchise history last year because of their outstanding defense. The Saints will be bringing their high-powered offense back in 2014, and their defense will be much improved. The Falcons will be in a dog fight in this division.

As a whole, the NFC North will be playing the AFC North and NFC North. That means Atlanta will be playing Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore. All four of those teams could very well make the playoffs in 2014. Something to remember is that the Falcons, a dome team, will travel to Green Bay to play the Packers in a cold weather game.

With their tough division and their out-of-division schedule, it will be a tough road for the Falcons in 2014. Mike Smith is likely coaching for his job, and it is vital that he gets this team far in the playoffs. Atlanta is only a year removed from being a perennial powerhouse in the NFC. To get back to the promised land, the Falcons need to do well inside their division. If they do that, Atlanta should find themselves in the playoffs at the end of the 2014 season.

Ryan Ratty is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @RyanRattyNFL or add him to your network on Google.

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