Atlanta Falcons schedule 2024: Takeaways, predictions

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons' 2024 schedule was released Wednesday along with the rest of the NFL slate.

The Falcons have not had a winning season since 2017, but the interest level in Atlanta has increased exponentially since the end of last season. The team signed free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract in March and then shockingly drafted quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 overall pick a month later. It was one of the biggest stories in the NFL over the past several months.

Just like that, the Falcons are a team to watch -- and fans will be able to do that in prime time four times in 2024, including three times in the first five weeks. Atlanta has been in nationally televised prime-time games twice in the past three years -- one apiece in 2021 and 2022 and none last season. The Falcons are 0-2 in those games. This coming season, the team will face the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders in prime time.

Here's what's in store for the Falcons:

Falcons 2024 regular-season schedule

Week 1: Sept. 8 vs. Pittsburgh

Week 2: Sept. 16 at Philadelphia (MNF)

Week 3: Sept. 22 vs. Kansas City (SNF)

Week 4: Sept. 29 vs. New Orleans

Week 5: Oct. 3 vs. Tampa Bay (TNF)

Week 6: Oct. 13 at Carolina

Week 7: Oct. 20 vs. Seattle

Week 8: Oct. 27 at Tampa Bay

Week 9: Nov. 3 vs. Dallas

Week 10: Nov. 10 at New Orleans

Week 11: Nov. 17 at Denver

Week 12: Nov. 24 BYE

Week 13: Dec. 1: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Week 14: Dec. 8 at Minnesota

Week 15: Dec. 16 at Las Vegas (MNF)

Week 16: Dec. 22 vs. New York Giants

Week 17: Dec. 28/29 at Washington

Week 18: Jan. 4/5 vs. Carolina

Strength of schedule: The Falcons and Saints have the easiest schedule as opponents had a .453 win percentage last year.

Over/under: 9.5

Biggest takeaway

For the first time in more than a half decade, there are expectations in Atlanta -- and real scrutiny in the form of four prime-time games. All eyes will be on Cousins and what might happen if he struggles and fans start calling for Penix. But outside of a potential quarterback controversy, it's clear the league sees more with the Falcons than it has in some time. Skill position players Drake London, Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts are all 23-years old or younger and potential name-brand stars in the NFL.

Revenge game

This one is easy. Cousins faces the Vikings on Dec. 8. He spent six seasons in Minnesota with some regular-season success (50-37-1), but going 1-2 in the playoffs. Cousins tore his right Achilles in Week 8 last season and missed the remainder of the season. He was leading the league in touchdown passes (18) at the time. You have to believe he wants to give his old team a reminder that at 35 years old, he can still play at the highest level. He'll get that chance, in the stadium and city he once called home.

Bold prediction

The Falcons will have a better record on the road then they will at home. That's nothing against the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it's just that the Chiefs are in Atlanta in Week 3 and they've won back-to-back Super Bowls. The Cowboys and Steelers are both top-15 teams in the latest ESPN NFL Power Rankings and they also visit Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Vikings, Raiders, Commanders and Broncos are currently ranked in the bottom 10 teams of the league and host the Falcons this season.