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Falcons play NFC South rivals in 5 consecutive weeks

Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons likely won’t have any love lost for the NFC South following Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season.

During a five-week stretch preceding the NFL Playoffs, the Falcons have meetings with the New Orleans Saints (2), Carolina Panthers (2), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following a Week 9 bye, Atlanta heads on the road in back-to-back games against New Orleans and Carolina before returning home for three games against Tampa Bay, a Thursday Night Football Saints matchup, and Carolina.

This is without a doubt the most pivotal chunk of the Falcons’ seventh-toughest schedule. It could realistically become the deciding factor in determining which NFC South team makes the playoffs and becomes division champion.

Julio Jones is close to finalizing a revamped contract with the organization, per Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. This is encouraging news considering the training camp holdouts and cataclysmic player standoffs that have noticeably crippled various franchises the past few years. The 30-year-old Jones hauled in 113 receptions, 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Jones’ elite receiving presence maintains the Falcons’ contender status each year, though a slew of injuries for both Jones and Devonta Freeman kept them grounded in 2018. Despite the team’s underwhelming 7-9 record, the fact remains that Atlanta needs Julio happy and healthy if it is going to post any victories of substance next season.

The Falcons open the year against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sept. 8.