Despite throttling both the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers en route to Super Bowl LI, the talent of the Atlanta Falcons remain unknown on a national level.
The reasons are obvious. Atlanta was not tabbed for a Sunday Night appearance and not even flexed into a late season game, as was the case with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For other late afternoon national broadcasts, FOX likes to roll with known brands such as the Cowboys, Packers and Seahawks while CBS’s number one crew typically work Broncos, Patriots and Steeler games. The two networks also make sure to get at least one interconference game that involve such teams.
That left Atlanta with a Week 3 Monday night game at New Orleans that drew alarmingly low ratings against a presidential debate, a Week 8 game v. Green Bay and a Thursday night game in Tampa for a national audience. Most other Falcons games were shown regionally.
Week 1 v. Tampa Bay – The season began with the Falcons in the shadow of the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers, who opened on a Thursday night. With the New Orleans Saints also in action, the game aired in Georgia, the Tampa area and some other southern locations.
Week 2 at Oakland – This interconference game would normally air on FOX, but was flexed to CBS. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon called this game while Colts v. Broncos got the Jim Nantz/Phil Simms treatment.
Week 3 at New Orleans (MNF) – The aforementioned 45-32 Atlanta victory that drew low ratings against Trump v. Hillary.
Week 4 v. Carolina – With the Panthers in town, the Falcons 48-33 victory was shown in most homes in the south during the 1 p.m. Eastern window. A Seahawks v. Jets game aired everywhere west of Denver and in the northeast.
Week 5 at Denver – The Falcons took down the other Super Bowl 50 participant in a 4:05 Eastern start shown to most of the south and west while a Cowboys v. Bengals game aired in the 4:25 window on FOX
Week 6 at Seattle – The Falcons controversial loss in Seattle was shown regionally in Atlanta and the Pacific Northwest as the rest of the nation got Cowboys v. Packers in the 4:25 window.
Week 7 v. San Diego – Another 4:05 start only shown in the Chargers and Falcons markets, while Patriots/Steelers was shown to a national audience on CBS.
Week 8 v. Green Bay – The Falcons 33-32 marked Atlanta’s lone national 4:25 appearance, shown everywhere with the exception of Denver as the Broncos had a home game.
Week 9 at Tampa Bay (TNF) – The Falcons Thursday night appearance fell here, the first game done with the NBC crew and Al Michaels.
Week 10 at Philadelphia – Headlined FOX’s 1 p.m. slate and shown in many regions that included the West Coast and Texas.
Week 12 v. Arizona – This game again got FOX’s number two team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch. The 1 p.m. start was only seen in Georgia, Arizona, the Carolina and other upper Midewest areas.
Week 13 v. Kansas City – CBS’s number two team handled this game which aired mainly to the Kansas City and Atlanta markets. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms worked Houston at Green Bay in the 1 p.m. window.
Week 14 at Los Angeles – By this point in the season it became obvious that the Rams did not make for good TV viewing. Dick Stockton called the one-sided contest aired to the Los Angeles and Atlanta markets.
Week 15 v. San Francisco – Another 4:05 local start against a subpar opponent aired regionally. CBS carried Patriots at Broncos in the 4:25 window.
Week 16 at Carolina – Christmas Eve game went out regionally as most of the nation received Vikings v. Packers in 1 p.m. window.
Week 17 v. New Orleans – Aired in the 4:25 window, the Falcons regular season finale played second fiddle to Giants/Washington in the same time slot.
Division playoff v. Seattle – The first true look to many of this team nationally, but got Burkhardt/Lynch as Joe Buck/Troy Aikman worked Packers/Cowboys.
NFC Championship v. Green Bay – Joe Buck finally got his first look at the Falcons, as he was on his World Series assignment during the previous Packers/Falcons meeting.
Talk about a lack of respect. But with a new stadium on the horizon coupled with this year’s success, the Falcons can look forward to infinitely more television exposure in 2017.