Atlanta Falcons schedule analysis

Breakdown: Drawing Tampa Bay twice and St. Louis once in less than a month should help the Falcons avoid the mid-year slump that hurt them so badly last year and closing the season with the Saints and Panthers at home could give the Falcons a real chance in the NFC South -- if the Saints don’t run away with it again.

The opener in Pittsburgh may look tough at the moment. But if there’s any suspension for Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger it will, at the very least, involve that game. That could get the Falcons off to a fast start.

Complaint department: Looks like the schedule-makers might have been trying to make things up to the Falcons after handing them such a brutal schedule last year and put them against four teams coming off byes. The bye week comes almost in the middle of the season, the final two games are at home and the Falcons got two prime-time games.

Revenge of the Birds? When the Eagles came to Atlanta last year, the Falcons were banged up with injuries and Philadelphia made it a point to showcase Michael Vick against his former team. The Atlanta brass was too classy to publicly complain about it. But there were plenty of people within the organization who were furious with Philadelphia coach Andy Reid. They’ll get a chance to pay him back Oct. 17 when they go to Philadelphia.

Falcons Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Arizona, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, San Francisco, 1:00 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 11, Baltimore, 8:20 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at St. Louis, 4:05 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Seattle, 4:05 PM

Week 16: Monday, Dec. 27, New Orleans, 8:30 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Carolina, 1:00 PM