The Atlanta Falcons have the NFL’s toughest schedule waiting for them in the 2016 season. To make it even harder, they’ll be long-distance travelers, too.
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Based on the 2015 records of their opponents, the Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers drew the most difficult schedules in 2016. The opponents for each team combined for a 142-114 record – a .555 winning percentage – last season.
Atlanta also will play the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams jerseys on the road in 2016.
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The NFC South teams play the NFC West as their interdivision opponents and the AFC West as their interconference opponents this season, explaining the Falcons’ travel plans.
So perhaps the outlook shouldn’t be rosy as the Falcons count down to the final regular-season game in their home since 1992, the Georgia Dome, on New Year’s Day against NFC South rival New Orleans. In 2017, Atlanta will begin playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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The Falcons are scheduled to play in two prime-time games in 2016, both against division rivals. Atlanta visits the Saints for a Monday night game on Sept. 26 and visits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a Thursday night game on Nov. 3.
Mike Smith, who was Atlanta’s head coach from 2008 through 2014, is starting his first season as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator. Dan Quinn jerseys, who’s entering his second season as the Falcons’ head coach, came from his post as defensive coordinator for the Seahawks, and Atlanta visits Seattle on Oct. 16.