2013 Atlanta Falcons Schedule: Predicting Atlanta's National Television Games
Although Atlanta fans often feel ignored by the national media, the Falcons did make four regular-season appearances on national television in 2012 following an underwhelming 10-6 season in 2011.
After a strong 2012 campaign and the additions of Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora, the Falcons have a good chance to exceed that number of prime-time games in 2013.
In anticipation of the release of the Atlanta Falcons 2013 regular-season schedule, let's step away from draft talk for just a moment to look at Atlanta's 2013 regular-season opponents and assign odds as to which games have the best shot of being on the national television schedule as either a featured late day game on a Sunday, or a night game on Thursday, Sunday or Monday.
Falcons' 2013 Regular-Season Opponents
We already know the Falcons' 2013 opponents; we're just waiting to find out when the games will happen. Here are Atlanta's 2013 regular-season opponents:
Now let's discuss which games are most likely to be nationally televised matchups.
New Orleans Saints
The Falcons and Saints have played one of their two annual games on national television in each of the past four seasons.
Given this old rivalry's intensity and Sean Payton's return to the sideline, it's probably safe to say that we'll see one of the 2013 games between these two teams played on a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night.
Odds: 25 percent
San Francisco 49ers
Since NFC South teams will face off against NFC West teams in the cross-divisional portion of this year's schedule, the Falcons will get chance to avenge their NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers during the regular season.
Atlanta's game against San Francisco will be played on the West Coast, so Fox will likely slot it as a 4:15 ET feature game the way they did the 49ers-Giants rematch this past season.
If Fox doesn't take this game, you could very well see it played under the lights on ESPN or NBC.
Odds: 25 percent
San Francisco isn't the only NFC West team that Atlanta will see in a playoff rematch in 2013.
Russell Wilson is set to bring a talented Seattle team back to Georgia Dome for what's sure to be another exciting game between two of the best teams in the league.
If all of the fireworks from the playoff game aren't enough to whet network executives' appetites, both teams netted high-profile offseason acquisitions like Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora.
The Roddy White-Richard Sherman battle also makes this one must-see TV.
Odds: 20 percent
New England Patriots
The Patriots will make their first trip to the Georgia Dome since narrowly defeating a Matt Schaub-led Atlanta team 31-28 in 2005.
These two teams don't meet in the regular season much, so there's a good chance we see this one in a prime-time slot as well.
Odds: 15 percent
Green Bay Packers
Atlanta's last two prime-time games against Green Bay haven't ended so well, and both of those games were played in Atlanta.
The Falcons have to make the trip up to Lambeau Field in 2013 for a game that should have an impact on the NFC playoff picture if it's scheduled late in the season.
Like the New England game, this one has plenty of star power, so it will certainly be a strong contender to land the Falcons on national television.
Odds: 10 percent
This game is the probably the least likely to end up on national television among this group since Carolina was not a playoff team last year, and their rivalry with the Falcons isn't what the Atlanta-New Orleans rivalry is...yet.
It's a long shot, but Atlanta and Carolina will have plenty of bad blood between them after the way their two games ended last year.
Also, Carolina finished 2012 on a high note, and they'll be looking to make a playoff push in 2013. Don't be too shocked if this game pulls an upset and ends up in prime time.
Odds: 5 percent
Which Falcons games do you expect to see on national television in 2013?