The Falcons’ theme for this year may be "Rise Up," but as fans our theme for 2010’s slate of opponents should be "Revenge."
There are reasons a’plenty to want to demolish our normal NFC South rivals: the Saints because they beat us to the hallowed Lombardi, the Panthers because they managed to beat us despite being horrible last year, and the Bucs because, well, they’re the Bucs. There are, however, even more valid reasons to seek cold, hard vengeance on other enemies this year.
Discover them as I review the five must-watch games this season.
5. San Francisco – October 3rd
This has been announced as a throwback uniform game by the Falcons organization. That alone means you should watch because those unis are just plain awesome.
Need more reasons? Well, the 49ers, who felt the cold steel toe of our red and black boots last year are looking to show that our total domination of the boys from San Fran was a fluke. The Niners are likely really looking forward to this game as a way to prove their worth. Therefore, don’t expect the Niners to roll over as easily as they did in 2009. This contest should be a knock-out, drag-out fight, and we all know how fun those are to watch.
4. Baltimore – November 11th
Flacco. Ryan. Flacco. Ryan. Nope, still not seeing the comparison.
Still, it’s being made. The Ravens are a scrappy, stacked team that could own its division. Hopefully the Falcons will be in the same boat having decimated both Tampa and New Orleans once each already. Regardless, you’re seeing a top-tier defense facing a productive and hardnosed offense. Oh, yeah, and there’s that quarterback thing too, I guess.
3. at Arizona – September 19th
Remember 2008? Of course you do. It was a breakout year for a team that had only won four games the previous season. Our rookies and free agent signings looked fabulous. Then new head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff helped engineer an 11-5 wildcard season. The Falcons were back.
The fun, however, didn’t last long into the postseason. The Arizona Cardinals and their plucky, ancient quarterback shredded our secondary and managed to make a Falcon great (I’m sure you know who) turn a blind eye on a tight end on third-and-long. The Cardinals are, of course, a different team this time around, and they’ll be playing on Atlanta turf.
2. at New Orleans – September 26th
This one is easy. They’re the Saints, first of all. Second, they beat us to hoisting up the Lombardi. Third, they’re the Saints.
Really, either planned game could go here, but I picked the away game -- how amazing would it be to beat the reigning Super Bowl champs in their own backyard? It’d be super amazing. There are few constants in the NFL, but Saints-Falcons games are always full of fireworks. Remember Brent Grimes’ amazing twenty-foot leaping interception in the Superdome last year?
1. at Philadelphia – October 17th
I don’t know if I should even remind you of what happened when Philly rolled into town on December 6th, 2009, but I will remind you of 2002 and 2004, when our hopes of Super Bowl stardom were dashed by the devilish Eagles.
OK, so I will remind you of last year. A player returned and romped against a broken, injured, flailing Falcons team. The Falcons didn’t even get a chance to score until garbage time. There wasn’t a shutout, but it might as well have been one, seeing as most fans had already left at that point. Get that frothing hate boiling and tune in.
For your reference, here's this year's Falcons schedule.