BIRDLAND — The league’s premier in-season event, Monday Night Football, returns to Atlanta after a two-year hiatus.
The Falcons’ 2010 schedule is highlighted with two national television appearances, including one outing on Monday Night Football against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
The Falcons will host the Saints at 8:30 p.m. on Mon., Dec. 27 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on ESPN.
The Falcons other nationally televised game will be against the Baltimore Ravens at 8:20 p.m. on Thur., Nov. 11 at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised by the NFL Network.
The Falcons played on Monday Night Football last season, but the game was in New Orleans. In 2008, the team did not play any prime time games.
The Falcons last played at home on Monday on Dec. 10, 2007 against the Saints. It would be Bobby Petrino’s last game as the head coach, a 34-14 drubbing.
The Falcons have the 20th toughest schedule in the league based on their opponents’ records in 2009 (127-129).
Last season, the Falcons finished 9-7 to post the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons. However, the team, which was beset with injuries to key starters in running back Michael Turner and quarterback Matt Ryan, posted only one victory over a team (New York Jets) that finished last season with a winning record.
In 2010, the Falcons will face six non-division opponents – Arizona (10-6), Green Bay (11-5), Baltimore (9-7), Philadelphia (11-5), Cincinnati (10-6) and New England (10-6) — who posted winning records last season.
Here’s a look at the Falcons 2010 Schedule:
Preseason games: Kansas City — 8 p.m. Fri., Aug. 13; New England – 8 p.m., Thur., Aug. 19; At Miami, 7 p.m. Fri., Aug. 27; At Jacksonville – 7:30 p.m., Thur., Sept. 2
Date: Sept. 12, 1 p.m.
Last season: 9-7, third in AFC North.
The skinny: Ben Roethlisberger could be suspended, but the Steelers still have Hines Ward.
Date: Sept. 19, 1 p.m.
Last season: 10-6, first in NFC West.
The skinny: Quarterback Matt Leinart will get his chance to take over for the retired Kurt Warner.
AT NEW ORLEANS
Date: Sept. 26, 1 p.m.
Last season: 13-3, first is NFC South.
The skinny: The Saints had some key losses during free agency.
Date: Oct. 3, 1 p.m.
Last season: 8-8, second in NFC West.
The skinny: The 49ers will be seeking revenge from the 45-10 whipping the Falcons put on them last season.
Date: Oct. 10, 1 p.m.
Last season: 5-11, fourth in AFC North.
The skinny: Tennessee safety Eric Berry, of Creekside High, could land with the Browns.
Date: Oct. 17, 1 p.m.
Last season: 11-5, second in NFC East.
The skinny: Off to see the Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick show.
Date: Oct. 24, 1 p.m.
Last season: 10-6, first in AFC North.
The skinny: The Bengals picked up wide receiver Antonio Bryant in free agency.
BYE WEEK, Oct. 31
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Date: Nov. 7, 1 p.m.
Last season: 3-13, fourth in NFC South.
The skinny: The Buccaneers will rely on quarterback Josh Freeman from the outset.
Date: Thur., Nov. 11, 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
Last season: 9-7, second in AFC North.
The skinny: Ray Lewis and Ed Reed continue to lead the defense.
AT ST. LOUIS
Date: Nov. 21, 4:05 p.m.
Last season: 1-15, fourth in NFC West.
The skinny: The Rams are expected to take quarterback Sam Bradford in the draft.
Date: Nov. 28, 1 p.m.
Last season: 11-5, second in NFC North.
The skinny: The Packers feature the passing of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
AT TAMPA BAY
Date: Dec. 5, 1 p.m.
Date: Dec. 12, 1 p.m.
Last season: 8-8, third in NFC South.
The skinny: The Panthers have turned the page on the Jake Delhomme era.
Date: Dec. 19, 1 p.m.
Last season: 5-11, third in the NFC West.
The skinny: Pete Carroll has returned to the NFL.
Date: Monday, Dec. 27, 8:30 (ESPN)
Date: Jan. 2, 1 p.m.
BYE WEEK BREAKDOWN: The Falcons will have their bye week after playing seven games, one game short of the halfway point of the season.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The will have to prove their mettle on the road or risk getting off to a bad start in 2010. To open the season, they will play four of their first six games on the road. Under head coach Mike Smith the Falcons are 7-10 on the road, including the wildcard loss in Arizona after the 2008 season.
THROW BACK GAMES: The Falcons will wear their throwback uniforms in two home games. They will make their uniform decisions at a later time.
HOME SWEET HOME: After the bye week, the Falcons will play three of four games at home against Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Green Bay.