Atlanta Falcons schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Falcons might as well go ahead and appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks’’ during training camp because they’re going to be regulars on national television. They’ll play two Monday night games (Week 2 against Denver and Week 16 at Detroit), once on Sunday night (against Dallas in Week 9) and a Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 13.

This will be the second consecutive season the Falcons have been featured in four prime-time games. This gives Atlanta a chance to really raise its national profile to the highest level in franchise history. That brings pressure, but it also brings a world of opportunity for a franchise that’s trying to get over the hump and win a playoff game for the first time since coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan have been around.

You’ve got to like the fact the Falcons don’t play the New York Giants until Dec. 16. That will be a rematch of last season’s playoff disaster. By that point, we should have a pretty good idea if the Falcons are legitimate contenders and facing the Giants should be a reminder of where they’ve been and where they might be going.

Complaint department: The Falcons play at New Orleans on Nov. 11 and host the Saints on Nov. 29. That’s two games against the Falcons’ biggest rival in 18 days. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see at least one of these games being played in the last week or two of the season.

Back and forth: The people who made the schedule played it right down the middle on the Falcons. Amazingly, the Falcons don’t play back-to-back home games or consecutive road games all season. They alternate between home and road games all through the season.

Falcons Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Monday, Sept. 17, Denver, 8:30 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at San Diego, 4:05 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Washington, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Oakland, 1:00 PM

Week 7: BYE

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Dallas, 8:20 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Arizona, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 29, New Orleans, 8:20 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, NY Giants, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 22, at Detroit, 8:30 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM