Well, here it is. This is the moment you’ve all been waiting for.
Atlanta Falcons 2009 Regular-Season Schedule*
|1||Sept. 13||Miami Dolphins||1:00 p.m.|
|2||Sept. 20||Carolina Panthers||1:00 p.m.|
|3||Sept. 27||at New England Patriots||1:00 p.m.|
|4||Oct. 4||Bye Week|
|5||Oct. 11||at San Francisco 49ers||4:05 p.m.|
|6||Oct. 18||Chicago Bears||8:20 p.m.|
|7||Oct. 25||at Dallas Cowboys||4:15 p.m.|
|8||Nov. 2||at New Orleans Saints (Monday)||8:30 p.m.|
|9||Nov. 8||Washington Redskins||1:00 p.m.|
|10||Nov. 15||at Carolina Panthers||1:00 p.m.|
|11||Nov. 22||at N.Y. Giants||1:00 p.m.|
|12||Nov. 29||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 p.m.|
|13||Dec. 6||Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 p.m.|
|14||Dec. 13||New Orleans Saints||1:00 p.m.|
|15||Dec. 20||at N.Y. Jets||1:00 p.m.|
|16||Dec. 27||Buffalo Bills||1:00 p.m.|
|17||Jan. 3||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00 p.m.|
*All times Eastern
Quickly, some items of note when it comes to the Falcons schedule, which was just released by the NFL…
- The Falcons have one of the hardest schedules in the league when you consider the amount of playoff contenders from the previous year but no one expected this kind of opening. Two of the Falcons first three games come against playoff participants from 2008. The three have a combined 2008 record of 34-14.
- For the second straight season the Falcons have three-straight home games. The Birds host the Bucs, Eagles and Saints in Weeks 12-14. In 2008 Atlanta hosted the Saints, Broncos and Panthers in consecutive weeks, finishing the stretch 2-1.
- If you include the preseason, the Falcons will play four straight home games to open the year.
- There are two prime time games on the slate: A Sunday night game against the Bears on Oct. 18 and a Monday night game at New Orleans on Nov. 2. This marks the seventh time in the last eight years the team has had at least one prime time game.
- Get ready for an early bye week. The Falcons haven’t had a bye week in Week 4 since 2002. Last year the Birds took a breath in Week 7.
- The Falcons play in the Cowboys new stadium (for now, Dallas Cowboys Stadium) on Oct. 25.
- Get ready for another stretch on the road. The Falcons play four of five on the road starting with the trip to Dallas. Atlanta had four of five on the road last season, finishing the stretch 3-2. There was a bye week squeezed in the middle, though.
- There are only three regular-season games outside the Eastern time zone. That’s good news for keeping up with kickoff times and traveling. Last year the Birds went to the West Coast twice and jumped into different time zones six times.
- Any game in Week 11-17 is available for “flex” scheduling and could be moved to late afternoon or Sunday night to accommodate a national audience. All of those games on the Falcons schedule are slated for 1 p.m. kickoffs.
Of course, that’s just some of the nuts and bolts. A lot more goes into breaking down the schedule when you travel with the team.
Logistics managers at all 32 clubs can now get to work booking hotels for travel (not easy when you’re putting more than 150 bodies in rooms).
Equipment managers are adjusting orders based on possible cold weather games.
Web managers, like me, are comparing notes on restaurants and checking the early road trips with baseball schedules…