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Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Strength of schedule: Falcons

By Vaughn McClure

Scanning the Atlanta Falcons' strength of schedule for 2014 tells me one thing: Let's just wait and see.

Although the Falcons head in with the league's 11th-toughest schedule, based on the winning percentage of opponents from this past season, there are some factors that have yet to be accounted for in this equation.

For starters, no one knows which of the teams on the Falcons' schedule will make significant upgrades via free agency. Adding an impact player such as defensive end Greg Hardy could help change one team's entire outlook. Also, certain teams could strike gold in the draft.

Preseason injuries could come into play. Such was the case with the Falcons last season, as Roddy White suffered a high-ankle sprain in the preseason and wasn't the same for most of the season.

The Falcons face new coaches in Tampa Bay (Lovie Smith), Detroit (Jim Caldwell), Minnesota (Mike Zimmer) and Cleveland (Mike Pettine).

The wild-card game for the Falcons will be facing the Lions midseason in London. It could throw them off their rhythm if they are rolling, depending on how they respond to the long trip.

Whatever happens, the Falcons definitely have to rebound from this past season's 4-12 failure. Getting Julio Jones back should be a good start.