The Falcons, the defending NFC South champions, will wear Atlanta Falcons NFL Jerseys and make four nationally televised appearances during the 2011 season, according to the schedule released by the NFL on Tuesday. Former Falcons QB Michael Vick, now with the Eagles, and current Atlanta QB Matt Ryan may finally meet in the Falcons’ home opener this season. The Falcons will wear Atlanta Falcons NFL Jerseys and open the season on the road against the defending NFC North champion Chicago Bears at 1 p.m Sept. 11. In what will be a spectacle of the city’s love-hate relationship with former quarterback Michael Vick, the Falcons will wear Atlanta Falcons NFL Jerseys and host the Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener in a nationally televised night game Sept. 18 at the Georgia Dome. Three weeks later, the Falcons will wear Atlanta Falcons Jerseys and host the Green Bay Packers that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, on sports television on Oct. 9. In the other nationally televised games, the Falcons will wear Atlanta Falcons Jerseys and host Jacksonville on Dec. 15 in a Thursday night game onNFL Network and travel to NFC South-rival New Orleans on Dec. 26 for an appearance on sports program. The Falcons wore Atlanta Falcons Jerseys and played three nationally televised games in 2007, but had been somewhat shunned by the NFL’s TV partners in the wake of Vick going to federal prison after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges. They were not on national television in 2008. They played once on national television in 2009 and twice last season. The Falcons are set to face six playoff teams — Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Seattle. After posting a 13-3 mark last season, the Packers wore Green Bay Packers Jerseys and pummeled the Falcons 48-21 on Jan. 15 and went on to capture Super Bowl XLV. The Falcons have played the Eagles in each of the past two seasons, but this could be the first matchup between Vick and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. In 2009, Vick was a reserve, but played in a game that Ryan missed because of a turf-toe injury. Last season, when the Falcons played in Philadelphia, Vick did not play because of an injury. He never even appeared on the sidelines as Kevin Kolb led the Eagles to a 31-17 victory. Vick wore Atlanta Falcons NFL Jerseys and played six seasons with the Falcons and guided them to the NFC championship game after going 11-5 during the 2004 regular season. Ryan, who is set to enter his fourth season, has guided the team to the playoffs twice, but the favored Falcons were beaten in both games. The NFL is engaged in a legal battle with the players, basically over the distribution of revenues. The owners locked out the players March 11 after the players decertified their union. The two sides currently are in federal court-ordered mediation. Negotiations likely will have to pick up steam if the season is to start as scheduled.
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