Game plan for the Falcons: A lockout that lasts into October

These two are scheduled to meet again Oct. 9. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

These two worthies are scheduled to meet again Oct. 9. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

If I’m the Falcons, here’s what I’m hoping: That the lockout ends Oct. 10.

According to the NFL’s just-announced schedule, they’re set to open in Chicago against a team that played for the NFC title. Then they come home to play Philadelphia, which won its division. Then they leave for Tampa Bay, which won 10 games. Then they fly to Seattle to play another division-winner. Then they come back to meet the Super Bowl champions, who came here and won by 27 points not long ago.

Six NFC teams made the playoffs last season. If the NFL opens on time, the Falcons — one of the six — will play four of the others in the first five weeks. Three of those games will be staged on the road, two of them in prime time. That’s not exactly easing into the fray.

The Falcons are scheduled to face Green Bay on Oct. 9. The rest of the way is manageable. Only three of the final 11 games will be against 2010 playoff teams (two against New Orleans, one against Indianapolis). If the Falcons can escape the first month-plus 3-2, they’ll be in great shape. Even 2-3 wouldn’t be bad. But 0-0 would be the best case scenario — if not for those of us on the outside who want to see the local team face Julius Peppers and Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers, then surely for Mike Smith and the coaches who’d have to prepare for them.

The schedule calls for the Falcons to play one game against the NFC West this season, down from four last season. The West, which had no teams finish above .500, spent last fall propping up the South, which featured three teams that won at least 10 games. That safety net is gone.

But now for the good news: The Falcons won 13 games last season, and if they play the full 16 this time they should be good enough to win 11. That would put them back in the playoffs, probably as division champs, though maybe not as the NFC’s top seed. Which would be OK, too. As the 2010 Falcons can attest, that seeding stuff can be overrated.

By Mark Bradley

57 comments Add your comment

Demon Dribbler

April 19th, 2011
7:52 pm

First….woooHOOO

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2011
7:53 pm

Larry

April 19th, 2011
8:08 pm

If we can’t get to and put the QB on his back then all is irrelevant…

Mike

April 19th, 2011
8:21 pm

Rather quiet in Orlando tonight.

That being said….this schedule really doesn’t let up. Detroit can’t be a pushover at this point. Houston than Carolina hopefully is the break and that’s not till December.

We’ll see how this pans out. I just hope the lock out last through the practice games so I get my money back.

hiramsaint

April 19th, 2011
8:21 pm

how does 11 put them as div. champs? have you seen the saints schedule? it’s easier than what the falcons had last year

Sonny Clusters

April 19th, 2011
8:23 pm

We was a top seed in high school and in life.

MightyQuinn

April 19th, 2011
8:25 pm

Thats one U-G-L-Y way to start a season. Whew! Or is it, PEE-YEW!!

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2011
8:33 pm

I was a lower seed myself

This Gets Old!

April 19th, 2011
8:33 pm

hiramsaint go away! What kind of mental instability do you have that keeps you coming here? Go and rant on the Saints blog. They’re plenty of them. My god man you were here asking D’led Saints draft questions. Go!

This Gets Old!

April 19th, 2011
8:38 pm

So Mark it’s your opinion that teams are looking at their schedules and thinking that the Falcon game is a “gimme”? Of course not. NFC West was so busy propping the South up that the Seahawks beat the defending World Champions.

denverfalcon

April 19th, 2011
8:38 pm

Our schedule is identical to the saint’s schedule with the exception of us playing seattle, the saint’s playing the rams, and us playing each other of course. Personally, I’d rather play seattle than the rams. So I’d venture to say that our schedule is way easier than the saint’s.

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2011
8:43 pm

Falcons’ schedule wasn’t so soft last season: Played Baltimore, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle and New Orleans twice. Six playoff teams.

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2011
8:44 pm

Nobody’s thinking the Falcons are a pushover. Generally pushovers don’t finish 13-3.

But you have to admit those first five games are pretty imposing

chalkdawg4

April 19th, 2011
9:02 pm

Falcons still have not refunded my money from the missed playoff game. Anyone else in the same boat? I am an attorney. Maybe we could get a class action suit going. kenjr@chalkerclosing.com

DHD

April 19th, 2011
9:09 pm

Surprised there’s no Monday Night game even though we have 4 prime time games. If we can go 3-2, we’re good.

Arno

April 19th, 2011
9:43 pm

Smith is licking his chops.

The Grinch

April 19th, 2011
9:58 pm

My GOD only in Atlanta can a team finish 13-3 and not be deemed worthy for Monday Night Football.

Hey, ESPN…the Civil War’s over. Get a grip.

The Grinch

April 19th, 2011
10:02 pm

Mark, once again I’ve had my post blocked. I didn’t say anything nasty, as usual. This literally never happens on Schultz, O’Brien, D-Led or Barnhardt, yet it happens almost every time on yours. Is there something about me you just genuinely dislike? Is it because I’m green? That’s racist, you know.

Mark Bradley

April 19th, 2011
10:14 pm

You haven’t been flagged, Grinch. If you had, your second post wouldn’t have gone through. Might have been the usage of the upper-case word. Beyond that, I know not.

Scott

April 19th, 2011
10:15 pm

11 wins with that schedule? Yeah right. I see 8 tops

What Will Be This Year's Top Excuses????

April 19th, 2011
10:18 pm

What will be this year’s top 3 excuses be for the teams failure to make the playoffs? The reason I ask is because if we don’t go out and get at least 2 decent defensive FA (not rookies) we are in trouble. Basically, we’re going to see the SAME team that got embarrassed in the playoffs this past January. And we all saw that Matt Ryan cannot carry this team like Manning or Brady.

So, Mark i’m not as concern with the schedule as some on this board. My concern is that we are not a SB or NFC Champ caliber team with our current roster; therefore, we’d better find some play-makers ASAP or the “doable” half of the schedule won’t matter because we might be out of the playoff race by Nov/Dec

Here are my top 3

1- Short season
2- Defensive Woes
3-White/No RB or offensive line

Falcons Rule

April 19th, 2011
10:53 pm

The Falcons roster is loaded this year—look for the Falcons to beat Green Bay for the NFC title. Falcons play New England for the super bowl—mark it down.

JAM PONY XPRESS

April 19th, 2011
11:07 pm

Fans have no clue of how this lockout will affect everything on the field, there is no free agency to speak of which will affect the draft picks. Teams have no idea of what they will have next year roster wise & the amount of which will be will be spent. When fans see a watered down product they will understand what overspending can do to any buissness!

JAM PONY XPRESS

April 19th, 2011
11:11 pm

@Falcons Rule

Until they get a victory in the post season our team has a lot to prove between the sidelines. They don’t give rings away any more like they did with the cheaters in New England. Win a playoff game Dimitroff & soon.

hiramsaint

April 19th, 2011
11:15 pm

judging by the title of marks column- i’d say he’s not a believer either and you do have a mon. night game

hiramsaint

April 19th, 2011
11:17 pm

the falcons do have a mon. night game in week 16

JAM PONY XPRESS

April 19th, 2011
11:22 pm

It seems funny how greed can turn something so innocent into garbage. Every pro sports league has had some kind of scandal in the last ten years…NFL had New Engalnd Goodell swept it under the rug & destroyed evidence…..MLB had steroids Selig look the other way til congress got involved exposed the top stars…..NBA referees gambling on games & Sterling let one guy take the fall & be the scapegoat. Bottom line there is no integrity in any sport anymore because we the fans don’t demand it.

hiramsaint

April 19th, 2011
11:22 pm

dhd- check week 16

JOSH SMITH FOR 3!!!

April 19th, 2011
11:44 pm

The Aints game away in the Big Toilet is on Monday night.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 20th, 2011
2:11 am

Why are y’all so bent out of shape about Monday Night Football? They don’t exactly get first crack at picking matchups nowadays, you know. Sunday Night Football is the place to be. Y’all remember the “classic” Niners-Cardinals tilt on MNF last season, right?

September 18 is going to be fun.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 20th, 2011
2:11 am

The blog monster ate my post too.

Dr. Warren

April 20th, 2011
3:48 am

If the Falcons somehow could manage to win the Super Bowl, I wouldn’t want it tainted by a lockout-shortened season, similar to the Braves in ‘95. Waited way too long for that.

Tuesday NFL Wrap

April 20th, 2011
6:36 am

[...] could benefit Falcons (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) If I’m the Falcons, here’s what I’m hoping: That the lockout ends Oct. 10. According to the [...]

jerry

April 20th, 2011
7:32 am

Mike Smith is 0-2 in the playoffs. He was favored in both games. Some think he is the only coach who could possibly win in Atlanta. I say run his white headed a$$ off.

51WTGW50

April 20th, 2011
7:56 am

How can the NFL make that schedule? They are trying to guarantee that the Falcons will not get back in the playoffs. I don’t Understand what the NFL can’t do like college and pretty much have the same schedule every year. Play our Division rival pretty much the same weekends every year and the teams that rotate on the schedule will be the same weeks every year too. It does make it easier to plan you Tailgating and Traveling. I just don’t understand the WINNERS schedule and a LOSERS schedule. Every team should play about an equal schedule every year.

Joey

April 20th, 2011
8:40 am

Not to excuse Smith, jerry, but Smith did face two hot teams – one that came within seconds of winning the SB, and the other that did win the SB.

I love the Falcons and appreciate that Smith has made our team respectable, but if he doesn’t learn that Marty-Ball (predictable, power running) only works in the regular season, he will become the Schottenheimer of his generation.

Even Parcells knew that you have to open up the O in the playoffs.

Turn Ryan loose!

Falcon Fan

April 20th, 2011
8:45 am

Yea right, Mark. Your article makes no sense. Teams are here to play the best if you want to be the best. You can run, but you can’t hide, Mark. Play me now or play me later (in the playoffs) – either way, you’ll have to play. Lose a tight one early in the year, you might be able to make some adjustments when you see that team again. Lose a tight one in the play-offs, you’re just out. Besides, you know as well as I do that the NFL is not going to lose any games on this. Too much money at stake.

just wondering

April 20th, 2011
8:48 am

And this just in… William Moore arrested for a host of vehicle-related infractions. Geez, can’t these guys just grow up and be responsible. No hint of drug stuff, but the report is not complete.

Good Grief

April 20th, 2011
9:04 am

Assuming the Falcons have a good draft, I can easily see this as a case of the team being better than last year, but the record being worse.

And why do we always have to fly to Seattle? Do the Seahawks not own a plane that they could fly here once in a while?

CT Falcons Fan

April 20th, 2011
9:18 am

Mark, you probably didn’t hear, but Commissioner Goodell has already announced that Atlanta’s 2 games vs. the Saints have been declared wins for NO. This is because the Saints have a Lombardi trophy and ATL does not, as several NO fan lurkers on these boards bring up in every post. New Orleans has a “winning organization” and tradition which ATL lacks. You will disregard the fact that their all-time records in the NFL are virtually identicial (Saints have an all-time .428 winning pct, Falcons .424). You will disregard Atlanta’s all-time lead in the series vs the saints (45-38). You will disregard Atlanta’s road whipping of the Saints in the 1991 playoffs. You will disregard the Falcons getting to a Super Bowl 11 years before the Saints did, or having 3 winning seasons before the Saints could even get one. That single Lombardi trophy negates all of that. All Hail, New Orleans!

Sid

April 20th, 2011
9:45 am

“The report is not complete”…………………….roflmao

Larry

April 20th, 2011
10:00 am

CT Falcon Fan….your sarcasm is duly noted, but a Lombardi DOES negate all of that.

Its telling that Bradley thinks its in the Falcons best interest for there it be a lockout till October. LMAO

DawginLex

April 20th, 2011
10:03 am

Yeah Jerry, let’s fire Mike Smith. Let’s go back to being 4-12 and going for those high draft picks like Aundray Bruce that got us to such high places. I miss going to games wearing a paper bag over my head. I miss being able to go down and sit wherever in the 2nd quarter because no one was there.

You probably want an outdoor stadium too. I miss freezing to death with 19,000 people in attendance with a 2-10 record, already wondering how the Hawks were going to do and wondering if the Braves were going to be OK because football was over before the season started.

Yes, buddy, I do miss thise days.

Let’s fire Mike Smith now.

dean

April 20th, 2011
10:11 am

I don’t know who the schedule gurus are, but they must have overlooked the fact that ATL OPENED in PITTSBURGH last year. Dam.

Doc

April 20th, 2011
10:12 am

i frequently lose posts on the bradley blog as well. finally got one through on the tribute to jesse. really is a problem you might ask you tech guys to check mark.

Nerds! Nerds! Nerds!

April 20th, 2011
10:14 am

Who cares about the team? In every professional sport, it is about the fans. I will be super PO’d if these games aren’t played. I would rather the Falcons be 0-5. I still want to watch the competition!

I also don’t think the best solution to adversity, is to hide from it. Good grief, this country is going into the toilet.

CT Falcons Fan

April 20th, 2011
10:16 am

I understand that a Lombardi is more impressive than all the stats I cited, but it has no bearing on how the forthcoming season will play out. Again, I go back to the NY Yankee argument–whenever I get into a debate with a Yankee fan, they always fall back on the “we have 27 rings argument.” By that logic we should just stop playing the games. Same thing here. Kudos to the Saints for winning that title but everything fell into place for them in 2009. They are not a dynasty, they are a one-time champion. In reading the Saints fans who post here, you’d think they were the Yankees of the NFL. GIve me a break.

Seen (Sean Peyton) This (take painkillers) B4

April 20th, 2011
10:18 am

who dat? we dat! two dat! dat’s rite, we r goin to win da title again! two dat in three years!

Larry

April 20th, 2011
10:49 am

CT Falcon Fans, “everything fell into place”? Well duh…that’s what happens for EVERY champion in ALL competitions. Don’t try and diminish what can’t be diminished, they won a Super Bowl, period. The Falcons still trying to get one and they aren’t the only team still trying. The Saints fans get to rub it in just like the fans of every team that’s won it – it is what it is.

Brian Asselstine

April 20th, 2011
11:00 am

Honey Badger don’t care…