Why the Falcons aren’t out of the woods with their league-toughest schedule just yet

AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

We’re out of the woods.

That was the general opinion of Atlanta Falcons fans after Sunday’s tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The toughest part of the schedule was over – three games out West in five weeks, with a Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints and a tilt at the Dome against the Carolina Panthers sprinkled in between.

In some regards, Falcons fans were right. They’re done playing the two Super Bowl 50 teams back-to-back, and they don’t have to go to Seattle again until at least the playoffs. But as we look ahead to a pair of home games against the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers, it’s clear that the league’s toughest schedule still has a few more tricks up its sleeve for Atlanta.

San Diego and Green Bay aren’t just decent teams, they’re both coming into Atlanta well-rested.

(Also read: Falcons are in great shape, even after loss to Seattle)

The Falcons will host the Chargers first – a team that hasn’t played since last Thursday, when they, too, beat the Denver Broncos. Despite their 2-4 record, San Diego isn’t a bad team at all, but their problems have generally come in the fourth quarter. If that’s because they run out of steam, there’s a much smaller chance of that happening after 10 days of rest.

Matt Ryan may be No. 1 in nearly every passing statistic this season, but Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers isn’t far behind. This is a very dangerous team that’s coming into Atlanta on Sunday, and the schedule-makers did the Falcons no favors giving them extra rest.

Then, they get the Packers, who play this Thursday night and won’t play again until they come to Atlanta. Much has been said about the season Aaron Rodgers has been having in Green Bay, and that’s just what the Falcons don’t want. The last thing an opposing defense needs is an angry Rodgers coming to town with something to prove, and 10 days off to think about it. Keep in mind that they play the 1-5 Chicago Bears Thursday night, so whatever problems Rodgers has will probably be fixed just before he comes to Atlanta.

The Falcons defense still ranks No. 26 in the league in scoring, allowing nearly 28 points per game, and they’ll be facing two quarterbacks in the next two weeks that’ll know exactly how to dissect weaknesses – especially with extra time to prepare. Atlanta can’t do anything about the schedule it was handed, but if they think the worst is behind them, they could be looking at 4-4 in two weeks’ time.

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