The National Football League released the 2017 regular season schedule on Thursday, including for the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.
In addition to their yearly contest with their NFC South opponents, the Falcons will also face the AFC East and NFC North. In 2017, the Falcons will face six teams that made it to the playoffs the previous year. Also, since the Falcons finished first in their division, they’ll have to play the 2016 NFC East (Dallas Cowboys at home) and NFC West (Seattle Seahawks on road) division champions in 2017.
This season, fans will see the Falcons officially open their new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium during the preseason versus the Arizona Cardinals. NFL fans will also experience a NFC Championship game rematch between the Falcons and Packers when they face off in the first prime-time game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team will also travel to New England on a Sunday night for a Super Bowl LI rematch against the Patriots.
Once again, AM550 and FM102.9 WDUN will serve as the Falcons radio broadcast affiliate for the 2017 season. All 20 Falcons games (preseason and regular season) can be heard on AM550 and FM102.9, and streaming on WDUN.com, with Wes Durham and Dave Archer calling the action.
For the fourth time in franchise history, the Falcons will kickoff the regular season in the Windy City. The Falcons are 2-1 in the last three season openers with the Bears, but the Bears won the last season opener versus the Falcons in Chicago in 2011, 30-12. They have also won the last two meetings, including a 27-13 victory when they last met in the Georgia Dome in 2014. The Bears lead the all-time series 14-12.
The first regular season game in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will take place on Sunday Night Football on NBC and it will be a rematch of the 2016 NFC Championship game. In Week 2, the Falcons will host the Packers for the third time in less than two years and will be looking for their third consecutive victory. Last year during the regular season, the Falcons snapped a three-game – regular season – losing streak against Green Bay when QB Matt Ryan led the Falcons on a fourth quarter drive to put the Falcons ahead 33-32.
When the two teams met again in January for a trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI the Falcons took advantage of the opportunity, as they beat the Packers, 44-21, for their second Super Bowl appearance in team history. Atlanta’s offense finished with 493 total yards, which is a playoff franchise record. The Falcons also became the fifth team since the merger to score 44+ points in the conference championship game.
The Falcons will be back on the road in Week 3 when they travel to Detroit to take on the Lions. Atlanta has won three of the last four meetings between the two teams, but Detroit still owns the all-time series 24-12. The Falcons last faced the Lions in 2014, when the franchises traveled overseas to face off in London with Detroit coming away with a 22-21 victory.
In Week 4, the Birds will kickoff their slate against the AFC East and will be looking for their fifth straight – fourth straight at home – win over the Buffalo Bills. Atlanta holds a 7-4 lead in the all-time series. The Bills last played in Atlanta in 2009, and the Falcons sent them home with a 31-3 loss. During their last meeting in 2013, the Falcons traveled to Toronto to take on the Bills, and the Birds snuck away with a 34-31 overtime victory. Ryan went 28-of-47 for 311 yards and one touchdown and former Falcons receiver Roddy White caught 10 passes for 143 yards.
After a Week 5 bye, Atlanta will host the Miami Dolphins for the first time in the regular season since 2009. The Dolphins own the all-time matchup 8-4, which includes a 27-23 victory in their last meeting in 2013. Ryan went 23-of-38 for 231 yards and two touchdowns, while WR Julio Jones chipped in nine receptions for 115 yards.
The Falcons will continue their games against the AFC East when they travel to Foxboro, Mass. in Week 7 for the Super Bowl LI rematch against the New England Patriots. It’s been eight years since the Falcons last played New England on the road, and it’s been four years since their last regular season meeting – Patriots won 30-23. The Patriots currently lead the all-time regular season series 7-6.
The Falcons will finish off their games against the AFC East in Week 8 when the New York Jets host the Falcons in MetLife Stadium for the first time during the regular season. In their last meeting in 2013, New York came away with a 30-28 win in Atlanta, but the Birds still hold a 6-5 all-time lead.
For their first division game, the Falcons will head north to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in Week 9. Last season, Atlanta snapped the Panthers four-game home winning streak against the Falcons on Christmas Eve, 33-16. The win completed the season sweep of the Panthers and marked the ninth time in franchise history the Falcons reached 10 wins on the season – first time since 2012. During that game, CBs Brian Poole and Jalen Collins both recorded their first career interceptions, while LB Deion Jones recorded a career-high 13 total tackles.
The Week 10 face-off between the Cowboys and Falcons will be a matchup of the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the NFC during the 2016 NFL playoffs. Dallas will visit Atlanta for the first time since 2012, where the Falcons won 19-13. Atlanta has won the last two matchups versus the Cowboys, including a 39-28 victory in 2015 at AT&T Stadium. During that game, Atlanta scored 25 unanswered points and the defense held Dallas to negative four rushing yards in the second half. Also, RB Devonta Freeman had a breakout game, finishing with 193 total yards, and three rushing touchdowns.
After having four west-coast trips last season, Atlanta’s only west coast trip in 2017 will come in Week 11 when the club travels to Seattle for a Monday Night football matchup against the Seahawks. This will be the second straight year that the Falcons have traveled to Seattle. Last year during the regular season, the Seahawks came away with their 10th all-time win over the Falcons, but the two teams met again in the Divisional round of the playoffs, where the Falcons won 36-20. That win was the first playoff win for head coach Dan Quinn, and the franchise’s first playoff win since 2012. Jones also passed Terance Mathis and Roddy White for the most playoff receiving yards in franchise history during that game.
The Buccaneers will get their first sights of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 12 when they face off against the Falcons for the first time this season. This will be the first of five divisional games within the final six weeks of the season. The Bucs and Falcons split the season series last year, including the Falcons dropping the season opener, 31-24, at home.
The Week 13 matchup between the Falcons and Minnesota Vikings will be the 28th regular season meeting between the two franchises. The Vikings currently lead the all-time regular season series 17-10, and they have won the last two matchups, including a 20-10 victory in 2015 in the Georgia Dome.
A Week 14 Thursday night matchup between the Saints and Falcons will be the Saints first game in the Bird’s new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons swept the season series last season, including a 38-32 victory on New Year’s Day in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons offense recorded 465 total yards and became the first team to score on their first five offensive drives of a game since the 2014 Rams (Week 13 vs Raiders). The team’s 35 points in the first half tied them for the most points scored in the first half in the Georgia Dome (9/18/14 vs. Tampa Bay). Also, Atlanta scored 540 total points on the season during this game, tying them with the 2000 St. Louis Rams for the eighth-most points scored in a season.
The divisional stretch continues with another prime-time game on Monday night in Tampa Bay to close out Week 15. The Bucs and Falcons have split the last four meetings in Tampa Bay, with the Falcons winning the last matchup, 43-28, on Thursday Night Football last season. Atlanta pulled away from the Buccaneers during the game, scoring 27 unanswered and beating them for the first time since 2014. Ryan went 25-of-34 for 344 yards, and threw four touchdowns, and had a 144.7 passer rating, which was the third-highest passing total Ryan has had against the Bucs. It’s also the highest number of passing touchdowns he has recorded against the Bucs.
For the second time in three weeks, the Falcons will take on the Saints. The Falcons will travel to the Big Easy, looking for their second consecutive victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In 2016, Atlanta beat New Orleans, 45-32, on Monday Night Football. During that game, Jones recorded his first career interception and touchdown in his first game back in his hometown. The return was 90-yards, which is tied for the third longest interception return for a touchdown in franchise history.
The Carolina Panthers will travel south to close out the first season in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons have won their last three matchups at home versus the Panthers. Last year, the Falcons swept the season series, including beating Carolina 48-33 in Week 4 at home. Ryan and Jones had career games, as they lead the offense to 571 total yards – the highest in franchise history. Jones pulled in 12 receptions for a career high and an NFL season high 300 yards. Jones’ 300 receiving yards are fourth on the NFL alltime list and he is the first person to reach the 300-yard mark since Calvin Johnson in 2013 (329). Ryan went 28-of-37 for 503 yards, which is also a franchise record and an NFL season high. Ryan also had four passing touchdowns, and a 142.0 passer rating – highest passer rating against Carolina.