August 10, 2022

The big waves of free agency are over. The draft is complete. Now, all eyes are on the upcoming NFL season. One of the teams with the most remaining question marks is the Falcons. After swinging and missing on Deshaun Watson, then dealing Matt Ryan to the Colts, Atlanta is seemingly back to square one of a rebuild, with both Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder in tow under center. Is it possible they could play spoiler out of the NFC South?

First, they’ll have to make it through their 2022 opponents. Below, find a complete look at the teams set to square off with the Falcons this year, as well as a rundown of their 18-week regular-season schedule (once announced):

2022 opponents

Bears: Coming off a 6-11 season, Chicago is still in rebuild mode, with new coach Matt Eberflus looking to keep young QB Justin Fields and a stripped-down roster afloat. Barring an MVP-level breakout from Fields, they don’t look all too threatening.

Bengals: The reigning AFC champions should be formidable as long as Joe Burrow is upright. An improved offensive line also bodes well for their explosive offense. Don’t rule out another deep postseason run from this young bunch.

Browns: On paper, they’ve got one of the best rosters in the NFL. The question is, who’s under center? Deshaun Watson may be sidelined for a lengthy suspension. Still, they’ve got the ground game and veteran defense to be a contender.

Buccaneers: As long as Tom Brady is under center, they’re dangerous. His weaponry should still be elite, even as Chris Godwin recovers from injury. How does Todd Bowles’ takeover on the sidelines affect them, if at all?

Cardinals: Is Kyler Murray under center (and happy)? If so, Arizona should still be a threat offensively, even with DeAndre Hopkins suspended to start the year. They may not be true contenders, but they’ve got the talent to make another playoff run.

Chargers: Justin Herbert alone makes them a scary opponent, but now they’ve stocked up around him, too. The defense, in particular, should be nasty with the additions of big names like Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson.

Commanders: They’ve been scrappy at times, and Carson Wentz and Jahan Dotson should give them more offensive upside. Still, this is a volatile organization with question marks at key spots. They shouldn’t be pushovers, but they look beatable, too.

49ers: They’ve either been totally in or out of the mix under Kyle Shanahan, largely dependent on the health of the roster. If Deebo Samuel leaves, their offense might look a lot different. And who knows what Trey Lance brings at QB?

Panthers: On paper, they’ve improved, adding a top left tackle (Ikem Ekwonu) to an offense that sorely needed help up front. A healthy Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore gives them weapons, but the QB situation remains a big question mark.

Rams: The reigning Super Bowl champions fared quite well this offseason, retaining some core pieces while splurging on others (Allen Robinson) to keep Matthew Stafford happy. Sean McVay’s squad still looks like an offensive juggernaut.

Ravens: Lamar Jackson’s long-term future here is cloudy at the moment, but he’s due for a rebound along with the rest of a healthier lineup. Even without “Hollywood” Brown, they’ve got electricity when fully healthy, especially on a remade “D.”

Saints: They’ve got a new coach (kind of) in Dennis Allen, but the pieces are generally there for them to be competitive again. Can Jameis Winston stay healthy and upright? That’s the biggest X-factor.

Seahawks: Who’s playing QB? If Pete Carroll is truly rolling with Geno Smith or Drew Lock, their ceiling is limited. But if they double down on the run-first attack, they could still be a tough out, especially with Charles Cross entering at left tackle and a defense that can’t be much worse than last year.

Steelers: No matter what, there will be hiccups at QB, where rookie Kenny Pickett may start. But Mike Tomlin always has them competitive, and the defense, with both fresh and familiar talent, should remain one of the NFL’s best.

Full 2022 schedule

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