Yikes. The Falcons' 2016 schedule is the NFL's toughest

One of the reasons the Atlanta Falcons' collapse from 6-1 to 8-8 was so deflating was that they entered the 2015 season with the NFL's softest schedule. (They would finish with the second-softest behind Carolina, for the basic reason that the Falcons played the 15-1 Panthers twice and the Panthers couldn't play themselves.) Well, what goes around -- stop me if you've heard this before -- comes around.

According to John Breech of CBS Sports, the NFL's toughest schedule for 2016 will belong to the San Francisco 49ers -- and the Atlanta Falcons . (The two play one another, as fate would have it.)

The 2016 Falcons will play seven games -- almost half the schedule -- against teams that made the playoffs. Another fun fact: Not one of the playoff teams the Falcons will face lost its first postseason game. Another: They'll meet three of the four teams -- New England is the exception -- that reached their respective conference finals.

Also per Breech: The Falcons entered the 2015 season knowing they'd be facing opponents that  compiled a collective .409 winning percentage in 2014 . They'll enter 2016 knowing they'll face opponents that compiled a collective .555 winning percentage last season. That's something of a difference, eh?

The 2015 Falcons played five games against teams that would qualify for postseason. Houston, Washington and Minnesota lost in the wild card round. (The other two games were against Carolina, duh.)

Even with a flying start against a bunny schedule, the 2015 Falcons couldn't make the playoffs. They should be better -- at least better than they were over the final two months -- next time around. If they're not better, they'll be going nowhere fast.

Further Falcons reading:

The Falcons cut Durant after one year, and I say, "Hmmm."

A defensive coach to offense? The Falcons again stump the band.

Value bet to win the next Super Bowl? ESPN's Tuley says the Falcons.

The Falcons retain Dimitroff, so I guess it's still all Smitty's fault.