The 2021 NFL Schedule for the Atlanta Falcons has been officially released and fans can now mark their calendars. Both anticipation and questions surround the Falcons this season. Will Julio Jones be traded? Will Kyle Pitts make his mark in his rookie season? The upcoming season will determine what the future looks like for a Falcons team looking to return to the playoffs.
Ranking the Atlanta Falcons Schedule by Difficulty
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 2)
Of course, it starts with the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. They have managed to do the impossible and resign all 22 players who were on the championship-winning team. With Tom Brady at the helm, there is no reason why they couldn’t repeat, or at least make a second straight Super Bowl appearance. The Falcons will need to bring their best and a little extra to take down the NFL’s gold standard at home.
2. Buffalo Bills (Week 17)
By the time the Falcons tangle with the Bills, it will have become apparent which directions both teams are heading. Buffalo resigned a large portion of their roster that got them to the AFC Championship Game. Josh Allen is a rising star who has gotten better every year and now has cemented chemistry with star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Bills are looking for a Super Bowl appearance, while the Falcons will be looking to test themselves against a proven team.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 13)
If the Falcons hope to improve their second go-around with the Buccaneers, they will need to learn from their week two meeting. Kyle Pitts will have had game experience and should be a bit more seasoned by this, while the decision on Julio Jones will have been made. While there is no guarantee of a win, a rematch should make the Falcons a bit more aware of the Buccaneers’ stratagem.
4. San Fransisco 49ers (Week 15)
By the time the Falcons meet the 49ers in Week 15, a determination will have been made on who the quarterback will be. Jimmy Garoppolo’s experience and Trey Lance’s dynamic athleticism each present their own challenges. George Kittle is always a threat to score when he is on the field, meaning the Falcons’ defense will need to be prepared to double team the offensive threat constantly. Whatever the 49ers decide to do, they will present a formidable challenge.
5. Dallas Cowboys (Week 10)
Jerry Jones made it a point to fix the Cowboys defensive woes through the draft with seven defensive selections. Jones also locked up star quarterback Dak Prescott to a six-year, $240 million contract, creating stability within the organization. The only question will be how will Prescott perform after suffering a season-ending compound fracture in his ankle in 2020. If Prescott can perform to his standard, the Falcon’s will their defense to go after him with reckless abandon.
6. New Orleans Saints (Week 9)
Without future Hall of Famer Drew Brees at the helm, the Saints may take a step back this season. However, the tandem of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill as situational quarterbacks will be able to provide stability this season, along with running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Trying to win a game at the Superdome is no easy feat for any visiting team as well. The Falcons’ defense will have to force Winston into throwing interceptions and capitalize on a weaker defense than previous years.
7. New England Patriots (Week 11)
The Patriots were extremely aggressive in free agency, bringing back Cam Newton and adding numerous weapons around him. Also, the drafting of potential long-term starting quarterback Mac Jones is in hopes of creating stability at the position. After a year of learning the system, Newton should have a better season, but if he falters expect Jones to get a shot. The Falcons will run into a Patriots team that should have figured itself out by Week 11.
8. New Orleans Saints (week 18)
The last game of the Falcons’ season will be a rematch with a playoff-bound Saints team. The Saints and Buccaneers will have determined who has won the division by then, so the Falcons may be able to capitalize on New Orleans resting some players. The Falcons will be playing at home, so they will want to give their fans a win for the end of the season.
9. Miami Dolphins (Week 7)
The drafting of Tua Tagovailoa’s college receiver Jaylen Waddle may be the spark the quarterback needs to reach his potential. Tagovailoa has struggled so far with the Dolphins, even losing starts to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Miami’s defense has won them games and covered for the offenses’ mistakes, but losing star linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be worrisome this season. If Atlanta comes prepared, they may be able to capitalize on Tagovailoa’s errant throws and turnovers.
10. Washington Football Team (Week 4)
Speaking of Fitzpatrick, he is finally getting another opportunity as a starting quarterback in the NFL. With the impressive playoff performance of Taylor Heinicke, Washington will use this year to see if he is the real deal. Facing them this early in the season will benefit the Falcons as they can try and capitalize on a team still trying to find its identity.
11. New York Giants (Week 3)
The Giants are trying to discover if Daniel Jones is the real deal, or if they will need to search elsewhere for a starting quarterback. There is also the hope that Andrew Thomas can take a step forward this season, and star running back Saquon Barkley can stay healthy. The Giants need to take another step forward this season, but an early matchup could benefit the more experienced Falcons.
12. Carolina Panthers (Week 14)
We will know by Week 14 how Sam Darnold has performed and how Christian McCaffrey has fared injury-wise. If positive, a rematch will prove tougher with the budding chemistry between the two stars. Cornerback Jaycee Horn will have accumulated game experience and become a more dangerous defender on the field. Expect the Falcons to win a closer contest, with Carolina looking to continue building through the draft.
13. Carolina Panthers (Week 8)
The Panthers are hoping that Darnold will finally find the potential that had him drafted third overall. Whether or not that occurs will determine how far the team goes. The Panthers also need star-running back McCaffrey to stay healthy, or they will be offensively inept. These are a lot of big ifs, and usually, when a team has this many question marks they tend to be extremely vulnerable. Look for Atlanta to take advantage and score early and fast.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 12)
The Jaguars are going to be looking to continue their development around newly-drafted franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. New head coach Urban Meyer’s decision to bring in Tim Tebow shows that he will think outside the box in looking for success. The potential is there for Lawrence to have a Justin Herbert-like run, but the team will need a season or two to gel and fix any holes that appear. The Falcons will be surprised by the Jaguars’ performance, but still, edge them out with experience and game planning.
15. New York Jets (Week 5)
Similarly to Jacksonville, the Jets are hoping that new coach Robert Saleh and top draft prospect Zach Wilson will be able to make the team more competitive and lead them in the right direction. Unfortunately, five seasons of losing will require a couple of seasons of overhauling the roster through the draft. Wilson is not considered as certain a game-changer as Lawrence is, so there is the fear they may run into another Darnold situation again. Look for Atlanta to capitalize on the Jets’ early struggles.
16. Detroit Lions (Week 16)
The Lions trade of Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff showed their acceptance of a rebuild. Goff has struggled in his last few seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, so a change of scenery could help. The hiring of new coach Dan Campbell is in the hopes of a culture change after the disappointment of Matt Patricia’s tenure. Expect the Lions’ to be a bottom team with a high draft pick this season, and a much-needed victory for the Falcons.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 1)
The Eagles are a team in transition and will need to continue their rebuild through the draft. Choosing to go with the younger Jalen Hurts and the drafting of DeVonta Smith are steps in the right direction but don’t expect the Eagles to be anywhere close to contenders yet. They are still trying to find their identity under new head coach Nick Sirianni and will need time. The Falcons will start off their season 1-0 with a decisive win over the Eagles.
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