Possible Falcons-Cowboys Sunday night opener has nice ring to it

The much-anticipated release of the 2017 schedule is expected to occur on Thursday, as Detroit Lions president Rod Wood revealed.

There are certain to be leaks regarding marquee games. The Boston Globe dropped one over the weekend when it reported the Atlanta Falcons are likely to host the Sunday Night Football opener in the new, $1.53 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, since a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl LI rematch is unlikely to be the Thursday night game to kick off the season.

If the report is accurate, then Falcons fans should be in for quite a treat coming off a Super Bowl disappointment. And an opponent such as the Dallas Cowboys or New Orleans Saints would make it that much sweeter.

From a national audience perspective, a Falcons-Cowboys showdown makes perfect sense. You would have the reigning MVP Matt Ryan facing Dak Prescott in Prescott's first game out of Tony Romo's shadow. You'd have the battle of 1,000-yard rushers in Ezekiel Elliott and Devonta Freeman. And you'd have two top receivers in Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. Not to mention a couple of rather visible owners in Jerry Jones and Arthur Blank.

The Cowboys always have appeal as "America's Team," while the NFL no doubts wants to showcase Atlanta's new stadium, provided no more serious construction delays occur between now and the regular-season opener.

The Falcons have opened at home the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to town last year, the Philadelphia Eagles visiting for Monday Night Football in 2015, and the Saints marching in to start 2014.

Of course, Falcons fans would love to see the NFC South rival Saints in the first game at the new stadium. It would make for quite an atmosphere, with the Falcons-Saints games always a heightened level of spirited competition.

The Falcons other home opponents include Tampa Bay, Carolina, Green Bay, Minnesota, Buffalo, and Miami.

Last year, the NFL kicked off the season with a Thursday night Super Bowl rematch between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Last year's Sunday Night opener was the New England Patriots against the Arizona Cardinals.

By the way, the Falcons and Cowboys last meet during Week 3 of the 2015 season. The Falcons won that game, 39-28, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.