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Next Playoff Round Shows How Tough Falcons' 2016 Schedule Truly Is


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Next playoff round shows how tough Falcons' 2016 schedule truly is

Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer

The Atlanta Falcons could have used a break coming off an 8-8, postseason-less season.

They didn't get one.

As the NFL prepares for the next round of this year's playoffs, the eight teams remaining emphasize just how tough a road the Falcons face in 2016. Six of the teams playing in next weekend's divisional round are on the Falcons' schedule next season: Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver. Those teams had a combined regular-season record of 71-25 in 2015, with all six winning 10 or more games.

The Chiefs, Packers, and Seahawks all pulled off road victories in this past weekend's wild-card matchups, while the Panthers, Cardinals, and Broncos all had first-round byes.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank showed a lot of faith by keeping general manager Thomas Dimitroff in place to work alongside head coach Dan Quinn, with some changes to the pro personnel and college scouting department currently underway. But Blank certainly will shake things up if the Falcons continue to play below standard again next season. So, Quinn and Dimitroff better conjure up quite a plan to upgrade the roster to compete against that taxing schedule.

Playing on the road at Seattle and Denver will be difficult enough, regardless of what type of offseason facelift each of those franchises undergoes. Although the Falcons have won their past two trips to Seattle, they've dropped three of the last four in Denver. The suffocating defenses possessed by the Broncos and Seahawks -- ranked first and second in the NFL this season while both allowing less than 300 yards per game -- are capable of giving Matt Ryan fits, particularly if holes remain on the offensive line.

The Falcons are well aware of what to expect from the Panthers, although they were the lone team to knock off the NFC South champions during the regular season. And there's no underestimating anyone else in the division, considering the Falcons are fresh off being swept by both New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

From a defensive perspective, the Falcons face the reality of having to contend with Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Russell Wilson -- not to mention up-and-coming Jameis Winston and Derek Carr. That's a stark contrast from Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett, Zach Mettenberger, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Hasselbeck.

And there will be three rushers coming off of 1,000-yard seasons on next year's slate: Tampa Bay's Doug Martin (1,402), St. Louis' Todd Gurley (1,106) and Oakland's Latavius Murray (1,066).

This offseason should give Quinn a chance to put more of his stamp on the roster. The former Seattle defensive coordinator will need some Seahawk-like talent to break a three-year playoff drought.

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Yea I was looking at the line up for next year and was like- dang man that's going to be a tough line-up. It will be fun to watch- but tough. Don't forget about Mack in the OAK match-up. I'm excited about this off-season. I just hope TD and Quinn can step up to the plate and make the right decisions. #Dirtybirdnation

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People had better pump the brakes on this improvement talk. We failed with an epically easy schedule. What's coming is murderers row.

We can't just add some stop gap free agents and expect to compete. We have to sign 2-3 real impact pro bowl type guys, or we could be headed to 4-12.

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Ugh. Stop it.

I can't believe people have watched the NFL for more than 3 hours and still think this is viable analysis.

A mere two-three months ago, Peyton Manning was throwing picks around like they were parade candy, Kansas City was 1-5, Carolina was enjoying the luxuries of a soft schedule and Seattle was 2-4 and in danger of missing the playoffs.

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Ugh. Stop it.

I can't believe people have watched the NFL for more than 3 hours and still think this is viable analysis.

A mere two-three months ago, Peyton Manning was throwing picks around like they were parade candy, Kansas City was 1-5, Carolina was enjoying the luxuries of a soft schedule and Seattle was 2-4 and in danger of missing the playoffs.

Sooooooooooo.......3 months ago the Falcons were 5-0. Which is more of a true test of a team - 5 games or an entire season? It was thought coming into 2015 that the Falcons had a very soft schedule and it panned out that way.

2016 looks to be a very difficult schedule and it probably will be. One thing we know is that Falcons offensive line and Matt Ryan generally do not perform well against playoff caliber/elite defenses - well in 2016, we face Seattle, Arizona, Denver and KC. Good luck with that.

You say the schedule does not matter.

You say Falcons facing 6 backup QBs this year does not matter. (We went 4-2 in those games)

Falcons were incredibly healthy in all 16 games this year as well

You say all those things above don't matter.

Falcons went 8-8 with our soft schedule this year. If we would have played next year's schedule this 2015 season, our record is probably 5-11 or 6-10.

We shall see.

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Sooooooooooo.......3 months ago the Falcons were 5-0. Which is more of a true test of a team - 5 games or an entire season? It was thought coming into 2015 that the Falcons had a very soft schedule and it panned out that way.

2016 looks to be a very difficult schedule and it probably will be. One thing we know is that Falcons offensive line and Matt Ryan generally do not perform well against playoff caliber/elite defenses - well in 2016, we face Seattle, Arizona, Denver and KC. Good luck with that.

You say the schedule does not matter.

You say Falcons facing 6 backup QBs this year does not matter. (We went 4-2 in those games)

Falcons were incredibly healthy in all 16 games this year as well

You say all those things above don't matter.

Falcons went 8-8 with our soft schedule this year. If we would have played next year's schedule this 2015 season, our record is probably 5-11 or 6-10.

We shall see.

Hey g-dawg, do you have any insight into who is going to start for Denver at QB in 2016?

Can you give me their starting front 7 for 2016?

Who is going to start at LT for Seattle? DT? RB? The rest of the OL

Who is going to man WR2 for the Falcons? TE?

Who did the Falcons pick at 17 in 2016 NFL draft?

Are there any players on the 2016 injured reserve list yet?

How does Jordy look after his come back?

How does the Chiefs' depth chart look? Were they able to bring back Berry and Smith and Johnson and Branch and Stephenson and DeVito?

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We finished 8-8 and swept the NFC East, who is weak.

We also went 3-1 against the AFC south who are also weak.

We struggled against our own division 1-5 after going 5-1 last year.

We lost to the Vikings who won their division and the 49ers by a point on the road. No excuses but we did go 7-1 against the weakest opponents and 1-7 against everyone else.

We needed to win in the division in order to make the playoffs this year. We didn't, so we were out. Next year we play 6 games within our division and if we don't improve that then playing the other teams won't matter.

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I always laugh at this kind of talk. No one knows who's going to be good next year when draft, free agency, attrition, and injuries hit everyone.

Carson Palmer will be knocking on 37 next year. Arizona is him going down away from falling off a cliff. Aaron Rodgers has gotten beaten up pretty good this year and Jordy Nelson going down, that offense doesn't look nearly as smooth and the defense is meh. Who knows what Denver is going to look like without Manning?

K.C. that defense while still formidable is getting old in some key areas.

No one knows how anyone is going to look in 2016.

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I always laugh at this kind of talk. No one knows who's going to be good next year when draft, free agency, attrition, and injuries hit everyone.

Carson Palmer will be knocking on 37 next year. Arizona is him going down away from falling off a cliff. Aaron Rodgers has gotten beaten up pretty good this year and Jordy Nelson going down, that offense doesn't look nearly as smooth and the defense is meh. Who knows what Denver is going to look like without Manning?

K.C. that defense while still formidable is getting old in some key areas.

No one knows how anyone is going to look in 2016.

Every single year there are teams that start with one of the hardest schedules and end with the easiest. It's a completey futile discussion. That said, I see 10-6 next year.

laugh.png

happy.png

emot-tiphat.gif

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People had better pump the brakes on this improvement talk. We failed with an epically easy schedule. What's coming is murderers row.

We can't just add some stop gap free agents and expect to compete. We have to sign 2-3 real impact pro bowl type guys, or we could be headed to 4-12.

I said the same thing and people jumped all over me! We need monsters, not these 1 year fillins.. we are looking at disaster of a season if quinn and td think we will get anywhere with tier 2 players. Look where we got against the easier of the schedules smh

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Hey g-dawg, do you have any insight into who is going to start for Denver at QB in 2016?

Can you give me their starting front 7 for 2016?

Who is going to start at LT for Seattle? DT? RB? The rest of the OL

Who is going to man WR2 for the Falcons? TE?

Who did the Falcons pick at 17 in 2016 NFL draft?

Are there any players on the 2016 injured reserve list yet?

How does Jordy look after his come back?

How does the Chiefs' depth chart look? Were they able to bring back Berry and Smith and Johnson and Branch and Stephenson and DeVito?

Larry comes out swingin...

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Sooooooooooo.......3 months ago the Falcons were 5-0. Which is more of a true test of a team - 5 games or an entire season? It was thought coming into 2015 that the Falcons had a very soft schedule and it panned out that way.

2016 looks to be a very difficult schedule and it probably will be. One thing we know is that Falcons offensive line and Matt Ryan generally do not perform well against playoff caliber/elite defenses - well in 2016, we face Seattle, Arizona, Denver and KC. Good luck with that.

You say the schedule does not matter.

You say Falcons facing 6 backup QBs this year does not matter. (We went 4-2 in those games)

Falcons were incredibly healthy in all 16 games this year as well

You say all those things above don't matter.

Falcons went 8-8 with our soft schedule this year. If we would have played next year's schedule this 2015 season, our record is probably 5-11 or 6-10.

We shall see.

Another big thing is, these aren't teams that just had a good year in 2015, and have a likelihood of falling back to earth. These are teams who have been good and likely will continue to be good.

And whomever mentioned the division is right, too.If this staff doesn't place more priority on winning those games, the rest of the schedule doesn't matter.

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Hey g-dawg, do you have any insight into who is going to start for Denver at QB in 2016? Osweiler or Manning, - Denver will re-sign or franchise Osweiler. With that game in Denver and with that defense, Denver could start Bart Starr and still win. We lost at home to a bad Indy team with 40yr old backup Matt Hasselbeck. It is an L and I will confidently tell yu that right now.

Can you give me their starting front 7 for 2016? Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware Brandon Marshall, Sylvester Williams and they have two free agents (Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson who play 3-4 DE - which is basically a glorified DT - they will probably re-sign one and let one go.

Who is going to start at LT for Seattle? DT? RB? The rest of the OL - Seahawks have a ton of free agents but they also have their main stars all locked up tight. You honestly think the Falcons will go to Seattle and win that game? really?

Who is going to man WR2 for the Falcons? TE? hopefully it will be better than Roddy and Tamme - but that is who it might end up being again, seeing as how the Falcons have so many more desperate needs on the OL, DL and LB.

Who did the Falcons pick at 17 in 2016 NFL draft? ust like it did not matter in 2015 that we had what appears to be a good draft, it won't matter in 2016 as much because we have too many holes to fill to contend for a SuperBowl. We are not 1 or 2 players away - we are about 10-12 players away(starters and key reserves) from having the type of roster that we need

Are there any players on the 2016 injured reserve list yet? who knows? if we have any significant injuries it will be more than we had last year - which was nil.

How does Jordy look after his come back? Jordy tore his ACL in the 2nd pre-season game. So by the time the regular season roles around next year, he will have had over a full year of rehab - confident he will be just fine.

How does the Chiefs' depth chart look? Were they able to bring back Berry and Smith and Johnson and Branch and Stephenson and DeVito? they will bring back enough of them - not all. Most GMs do a pretty good job of retaining their core nucleus. The GMs making mistakes are the ones signing players from other teams that have deemed them expendable - we have seen this over and over again with Dimitroff.

answered everyone of your questions above, Larrywink.png

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I said the same thing and people jumped all over me! We need monsters, not these 1 year fillins.. we are looking at disaster of a season if quinn and td think we will get anywhere with tier 2 players. Look where we got against the easier of the schedules smh

Lol another dope who only sees the 2's in front of his face.

So in your books DQ and co have failed already have they wow.

There using the 1 year prove it contracts too stop gap till they find there guys,much like how the Seahawks were built it just takes more than 5 minutes is all.

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I said the same thing and people jumped all over me! We need monsters, not these 1 year fillins.. we are looking at disaster of a season if quinn and td think we will get anywhere with tier 2 players. Look where we got against the easier of the schedules smh

Very true. Bargain shopping won't cut it. But, I'll watch what they do. The last off-season was far from impressive.

And don't sweat getting jumped on. You get used to it over time,lol.

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answered everyone of your questions above, Larrywink.png

Yikes.

Bro. You're smarter than this. I just don't understand why you need the bravado. Just say you don't know whats going to happen. It's really easy. And its the only way you'd be telling the truth.

"could"

"might"

"doesnt matter"

"appears"

"probably"

"hopefully"

"confident"

"will"

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