The Atlanta Falcons learned they will kick off their 2016 regular season at home against the (Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 11 as the league announced their schedule earlier tonight. It marks the third consecutive year that the Falcons open up the regular season at home in the Georgia Dome and the third time in four years that the Falcons will face a NFC South division rival to start the year.
That game will see the Falcons face two familiar faces patrolling the Bucs’ sidelines as they are led by first-year head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Koetter spent three years as the offensive coordinator under Smith, who was the Falcons’ head coach from 2008 to 2014.
This will also mark the final season in which the Falcons will play in the Georgia Dome, as their new venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is set to open next season. Thus the Falcons’ final game in the Georgia Dome will be against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17 on January 1, 2017.
The Falcons will have two primetime games on the road this year, one against the Saints in Week Three and the other against the Buccaneers in Week Nine. The Falcons will play the Saints on Monday Night Football on September 26 on ESPN and the Bucs on Thursday Night Football on November 3 on NFL Network
After starting the year against the Bucs, the Falcons will go on the road for the next two weeks against the Oakland Raiders and Saints. The Raiders game will be an afternoon game played at 4:25 p.m. Eastern, and one of two games slated to be broadcast on CBS instead of FOX.
In Week Four, the Falcons will face their third NFC South rival in the Carolina Panthers at home. The Panthers won the division a year ago and lost in the Super Bowl to the team that the Falcons will face the following week: the Denver Broncos. That will be another afternoon game played at 4:05 p.m. on October 9.
The Falcons will continue their road stand the next week against the Seattle Seahawks, the former team of current Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Quinn served as defensive coordinator of the Seahawks in 2013 and 2014, while also working as a defensive line coach in 2009 and 2010. They will face the Seahawks in another afternoon game.
The Falcons will return home for two weeks to face the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers on October 23 and 30, respectively. The Chargers game will be another afternoon game.
After the short week against the Bucs, the Falcons will have a bit of a layoff before taking on the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in Week 10 on November 13. The following week the Falcons will get a bye week to get some needed rest in Week 11.
They come off the bye for two home games against the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs.The Cardinals game will be played the weekend after Thanksgiving. The Chiefs game will be their second outing broadcast on CBS.
In Week 14, the Falcons will make the long road trip to face the Los Angeles Rams in another afternoon game on December 11.
The next week they return home for an afternoon bout with the San Francisco 49ers on December 18, which will mark the final Falcons game played in the Georgia Dome in the calendar year of 2016. The Falcons helped the 49ers close out their former venue at Candlestick Park back in 2013, which resulted in a 34-24 loss for the Falcons.
The Falcons then go on the road to face the Panthers in Week 16 on Saturday, December 24 before finishing the year against the Saints.
Altogether the Falcons will face the toughest schedule in 2016 based off 2015 regular-season records.
The Falcons preseason schedule was already announced earlier this month.