FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons schedule is set to be released at 8 p.m. Thursday, but because of the issues the new stadium the site of the early home games appear in jeopardy.
Demolition of the Georgia Dome, originally expected to occur in July, could be postponed amid construction delays with its replacement, Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“There’s no date set for the demolition,” Brett Jewkes, senior vice president and chief communications officer of Falcons parent company AMB Group, said Monday.
Until we get the full schedule, here’s a look at the upcoming opponents for the 2017 season:
Falcons at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10
Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Aug. 20
Arizona Cardinals at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 26
Jacksonville Jaguars at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 31
HOME AND AWAY
TAMPA BAY: The Falcons split the two games with the Bucs last season with the road team winning each time. The Bucs have added fleet wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the offense. They appear determined to improve their rushing attack. Running back Doug Martin has to serve a four-game suspension. The defense made major strides last season under defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The Bucs are the Falcons major challenger in the NFC South.
CAROLINA: The Falcons swept the Panthers last season. Quarterback Cam Newton had offseason rotator cuff surgery. They have re-united with former standout defensive end Julius Peppers and signed defensive tackle Kawann Short to a five-year. $80 million contract. The Panthers will be looking to rebound after they couldn’t follow-up their run to the Super Bowl. The secondary is being revamped.
NEW ORLEANS: The Saints big free agency signings were guard Larry Warford (four years, $34 million) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (four years, $28 million). They don't appear to have a clear plan on defense and Drew Brees is moving along in age.
DALLAS: The Cowboys, who passed the quarterback reigns on to Dak Prescott, are retooling their defense after letting several starters and contributors leave during free agency. The list includes cornerbacks Brandon Carr (Ravens) and Morris Claiborne (Jets), safeties Barry Church (Jaguars) and J.J. Wilcox (Buccaneers), defensive end Jack Crawford (Falcons), guard Ron Leary (Broncos) and defensive tackle Terrell McClain (Redskins). Also, Tony Romo retired and tackle Doug Free is expected to retire. Running back Ezekiel Elliott will need to follow-up his spectacular rookie season in order for the Cowboys to remain contenders.
GREEN BAY: The Packers prefer to draft and develop their own players, but this offseason they did some cash in free agency by adding tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, cornerback Davon House and defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois. They were replacements for Jared Cook (Raiders); House is Micah Hyde (Bills); Jean Francois is Julius Peppers (Carolina) and Datone Jones (Vikings). With quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the controls, the Packers will always be dangerous.
MINNESOTA: The Vikings parted ways with longtime running back Adrian Peterson and are hoping to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater back from a horrific knee injury. The Vikings added running back Latavius Murray from the Raiders as a replacement. They will also look to add a running back in the draft. Sam Bradford is back for his second season if Bridgewater is not fully recovered.
BUFFALO: The Bills hired former Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to take over as head coach. He’ll try to instill some ruggedness into the defense, while shaping the offense around quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Bills restructured Taylor’s contract that makes him a bargain in 2017. Not only is he taking a pay cut, but he is on a one-year make-good deal. The Bills added former Green Bay safety Micah Hyde in free agency. He signed a five-year, $30 million deal.
MIAMI: The Dolphins have constructed a strong defense around line stalwarts Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Safety Reshad Jones, the Atlanta native who played at Georgia, anchors the attack. The Dolphins made the playoffs last season behind a strong rushing attack and a controlled passing game.
SEATTLE: The Seahawks championship-level window appears to have closed. They are trying to retool the Legion of Boom defense as they attempt to trade cornerback Richard Sherman. They still have quarterback Russell Wilson, but he’s not as effective without a power rushing attack. Sherman appears to have worn out his welcome after being involved in sideline shouting matches with defensive coordinator Kris Richard and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on separate occasions.
DETROIT: The Lions are led by former Georgia standout Matthew Stafford at quarterback. Stafford is set to enter the last season of the five-year, $76.5 million contract he signed in 2013, but the Lions hope to lock him in on another long-term deal before the season starts. Improving the rushing attack has been a major priority this offseason. The Lions also signed former Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow in free agency.
CHICAGO: The Bears have hitched their wagon to Mike Glennon, the former backup with Tampa Bay. The Bears signed Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract with $18.5 million guaranteed. The 27-year-old hasn’t started a game since 2014. He’ll be able to lean on running back Jordan Howard, who rushed for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns last season.
NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore (Bills) to the largest free-agent deal in franchise history (five years, $65 million) and traded for speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks (Saints) and defensive end Kony Ealy (Panthers). The team also re-signed Pro Bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who had a key sack against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
NEW YORK JETS: The Jets don’t have a quarterback. They signed great locker-room guy Josh McCown over the offseason. He’s been in the league since 2002, but at 38 years old, he’s hardly the future. Also, he’s 2-20 over his last 22 NFL starts. They also got rid of high profile players in wide receiver Brandon Marshall, center Nick Mangold, kick Nick Folk and cornerback Darrelle Revis.
NFL DRAFT 2017
POSITION BY POSITION SERIES
Sunday, April 16 — QUARTERBACKS
Monday, April 17 -- RUNNING BACKS