Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
Atlanta Falcons 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: at Kansas City
Week 2: Denver (Mon.)
Week 3: at San Diego
Week 4: Carolina
Week 5: at Washington
Week 6: Oakland
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: at Philadelphia
Week 9: Dallas
Week 10: at New Orleans
Week 11: Arizona
Week 12: at Tampa Bay
Week 13: New Orleans (Thurs.)
Week 14: at Carolina
Week 15: New York Giants
Week 16: at Detroit (Sat.)
Week 17: Tampa Bay
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- Atlanta will play both the AFC West and the NFC East as its cross-divisional opponents in 2012. The Falcons get a heavy dose of the AFC to start their season, opening up with three straight against the West. The Falcons open in Kansas City before hosting Denver in their home opener on Monday night of Week 2. After that it's a cross-country trip to take on the Chargers in San Diego. The home game against Oakland in Week 6 will conclude the AFC part of the Falcons' '12 schedule.
- For their head-to-head dates with the NFC East, the Falcons get both the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and Cowboys on their home turf and will pay a visit to both Washington and Philadelphia. The Redskins are first up in Week 5, followed by the Cowboys and Eagles back-to-back in Weeks 8 and 9. The Giants come calling in Week 15 and this will be the first time the teams have met since the G-Men's 24-2 dismantling of the Falcons in last season's wild card playoff game in New York.
- Atlanta opens divisional play against Carolina in Week 4, but doesn't play another NFC South opponent until it goes to New Orleans in Week 10. The Falcons play five divisional contests in their last eight games. Three of these games are in a row, Weeks 12-14, as a Thursday night home date with the Saints is sandwiched around road games at Tampa Bay and Carolina.
- The Falcons' bye week comes in Week 7, which means they will play 10 straight games following their off week. The bye is preceded by their final game against the AFC West and then Atlanta returns to action with two straight against the NFC East — at Philadelphia and versus Dallas — before returning to divisional play on the road against New Orleans.
- Atlanta's two floating games this season are home against Arizona and on the road in Detroit. Both games are among the Falcons' final seven on their schedule. The Week 11 date with the Cardinals falls between two divisional games, while the game in Detroit is on a Saturday night and follows the Falcons' Week 15 meeting with the Giants. The match ups with the Giants and Lions could both have playoff implications tied to them as all three teams are expected to be in contention for a postseason berth in 2012.
Fantasy Focus: Quarterback Matt Ryan's passing yards and touchdowns have both gone up in each of the past three seasons. Although Ryan is not considered an elite fantasy quarterback, it's possible he could finish the season in the top 10 at his position given he has two legitimate targets in wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, and chances are the Falcons will probably try to reduce running back Michael Turner's workload in 2012. There's also Atlanta's schedule. Of the Falcons' 13 opponents this season, nine of them ranked among the top 16 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2011. All three of Atlanta's NFC South foes — Tampa Bay (3rd-most), Carolina (7th) and New Orleans (9th) — were in the top 10 in this category, and remember the Falcons play each of these teams twice. Oakland (2nd), the Giants (5th), San Diego (8th), Denver (11th), Detroit (12th) and Dallas (16th) also finished in the top half in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last season.
— by Mark Ross, published on June 13, 2012
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: