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Falcons to open new stadium against Packers


The Falcons are scheduled to play their first regular-season NFL game at the Mercedes-Benz Dome against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 17 on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

The schedule, released Thursday, has slated the Falcons’ new stadium debut in Week 2. The defending NFC champs, the Falcons will open the season on the road against the Chicago Bears on Sept 10.

In their last meeting, the Falcons body-slammed the Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship game in the Georgia Dome to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.

The lingering question: Will the new stadium be ready for the showcase game?

The stadium was scheduled to be completed March 1, but the date has been pushed back three times. The new opening day is now Aug. 26, when the Falcons are to play their third exhibition game against Arizona.

Plans to demolish the Georgia Dome have been put on hold as an insurance policy.

Here’s a look at some of key points about the schedule:

National exposure. In addition to the game against the Packers, the Falcons have four other nationally televised games and will make two appearances on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Both Monday night games will be on the road against Seattle on Nov. 20 and Tampa Bay on Dec. 18.

The Falcons will also face the Saints in a Thursday night game on Dec. 7 and the Patriots in a Sunday night game on Nov. 22.

The opener: The Falcons start the season in Chicago. The last time they opened the season in the Windy City, they were throttled 30-12 on Sept. 11, 2011. Former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns while running back Mo Forte broke loose for 158 total yards and a touchdown.

The Falcons went on to finish 10-6 and reached the playoffs as a wild card, but were eliminated by the New York Giants.

The Falcons will see an entirely new Bears regime with Mike Glennon taking over at quarterback for coach John Fox. The Bears are trying to rebound from a 3-13 season and a last-place finish in the rugged NFC North.

Super Bowl LI rematch. The Super Bowl rematch between the Falcons and the Patriots is set for Week 7, falling on Oct. 22 at Gillette Stadium. It will be televised nationally on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

For those with short memories, the Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Houston. The Falcons held a 28-3 lead before collapsing to lose in the most historic comeback in Super Bowl history.

Last season, the league originally had the Panthers open the season against the Broncos in a Super Bowl L rematch. After the Panthers complained, the league moved away from scheduling the rematch as the opener.

The later scheduling might give the Falcons more time to put their meltdown in their rearview mirror. Good luck with that.

The Patriots will open the season at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bad and Boujee Bowl. The Falcons and the Saints renew their long-standing and soulful rivalry on Dec. 7 when the Saints come to town for a Thursday night game that will be on NBC, NFL Network and live-streamed by Amazon.

The second matchup comes two weeks later when the Falcons travel to New Orleans for a Christmas Eve game. The Falcons won both Saints games last season.

Road warriors. Last season, the Falcons played four of their first six games on the road, the last two games coming in Denver and Seattle. The team elected to stay in the Seattle for entire week.

This season, the Falcons have a similar setup from Week 7 through 11, when they will play four of five games on the road starting with the Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots.

After facing the Patriots, they play at the New York Jets on Oct. 29 and at Carolina on Nov. 5 before hosting Dallas on Nov. 12. They then travel to Seattle for the Monday night game on Nov. 20.



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