Posted: 6:00 am Monday, February 17th, 2014
By D. Orlando Ledbetter
The Falcons will have an arduous climb out of the basement of the NFC South in 2014.
After going from the No. 1 seed in the conference to last place in the division, the Falcons will have the 11th toughest schedule in the league next season and play one of their home games on the road at a neutral site in London.
The 2014 strength of schedule is based on the 2013 winning percentage of all the clubs on a team’s 2014 schedule.
With two games each against Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa, the 2013 winning percentage of Atlanta’s 2014 opponents is .512, the 11th toughest schedule in 2014.
The Falcons only plays six games against teams with losing record in 2013.
Normally, finishing in last place leaves teams with an easier schedule than other division foes.
Tampa Bay, which was also 4-12, has the league’s 19th most difficult schedule (.484).
Carolina, which won the division last season, has the 22nd toughest schedule (.473) and New Orleans, the second-place team, has the 23rd toughest schedule (.469).
2014 AWAY GAMES — Carolina (12-4), Tampa Bay (4-12), New Orleans (11-5), Green Bay (8-7-1), Minnesota (5-10-1), Baltimore (8-8), Cincinnati (11-5) and New York Giants (7-9).
2014 HOME GAMES — Carolina, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Detroit (in London) (7-9), Chicago (8-8), Cleveland (4-12), Pittsburgh (8-8) and Arizona (10-6).
The home game against Detroit in London’s Wembley Stadium is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.
Last season, the NFL released the full schedule with dates, times and national television appearances on April 18th. With the draft pushed back to May 8-10, the schedule release date could also be pushed back.
The last time the Falcons finished in last place was in the 2007 season under Bobby Petrino and interim head coach Emmitt Thomas. The team went 4-12.
Coach Mike Smith, in his first season with the team, flipped the record to 11-5 to finish in second place and earn a wildcard playoff berth.
Here’s the team’s record under Smith:
2008 — 11-5 — Second place — Wildcard playoff team
2009 — 9-7 — Second place — Did not qualify for playoffs
2010 — 13-3 — First place, No. 1 seed in NFC for playoffs
2011 — 10-6 — Second place, Wildcard playoff team.
2012 — 13-3 — First place, No. 1 seed in NFC for playoffs.
2013 — 4-12 — Last place — Did not qualify for playoffs