FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end. We’re up to Game Six, the Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots:
GAME SIX: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Falcons at Patriots, at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22
No longer with the Patriots: Chris Long, DE (Signed with Eagles), Martellus Bennett, TE (Signed with Packers), Logan Ryan, CB (Signed with Titans), Barkevious Mingo, LB (Signed with Colts), Jabaal Sheard, DE (Signed with Colts) and Sebastian Vollmer, T (Released).
Key free agent signings/pickups: WR Brandin Cooks, DE Kony Elay, TE Dwayne Allen, CB Stephon Gilmore, DL Lawrence Guy, LB Barkevious Mingo, RB Mike Gillislee and RB Rex Burkhead.
New England’s 2017 NFL draft
|3||83||Derek Rivers||OLB||Youngstown State|
Weaknesses: The Falcons were able to exploit the Patriots’ offensive line early in the Super Bowl before they ran out of gas. They’ll have to attack quarterback Tom Brady again, but have to do it for four quarters.
Strengths: The passing attack with Brady at the controls is nearly unstoppable. The fact that they added Cooks makes them even more dangerous. Cooks had 162 receptions for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons for the Saints.
Comment: The Patriots elected to trade for veterans instead of building through the draft this offseason. They added Cooks, Ealy and Allen through trades. Also for the first time since signing Adalius Thomas in 2007, the Patriots spent big money in free agency when they landed Gilmore with a five-year, $65 million deal with $40 million in guarantees.
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
Sept. 10 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 17 Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. NBC
Sept. 24 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. Fox
Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 8 BYE
Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 22 at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Oct. 29 at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thur), 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network/Amazon
Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon). 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
THE FALCONS 2017 DRAFT