Atlanta Falcons schedule takeaways:
- Atlanta is not given a reprieve early on, forced to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. This will be a good barometer of where Arthur Smith’s squad is at.
- With a Week 6 bye, the Falcons will have to play 12 consecutive weeks to close out the new 18-week regular season.
- Sportsnaut predicts the Falcons will finish 7-10 record.
The Atlanta Falcons schedule for the 2021 NFL season is out and this year could be the turning point for the franchise, with the organization starting to turn the page on an entertaining era.
Matt Ryan remains the franchise quarterback and he could stick around for a while, but fan-favorite Julio Jones was just dealt to the Tennessee Titans in a blockbuster trade. With a new regime leading the way, led by head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot, it could be a challenging transition for the franchise.
Let’s dive into our full game-by-game predictions for the upcoming Falcons’ 2021 season.
Atlanta Falcons schedule predictions, roster outlook
Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.
Falcons roster outlook
- QB — Matt Ryan
- RB — Mike Davis, Qadree Ollison, Tony Brooks-James, Javian Hawkins (rookie)
- TE — Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst
- WR — Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Cordarrelle Patterson
- Defense — Falcons don’t rank in the top 20 this week
The biggest question for these Falcons is who will step up behind Ridley now that Julio Jones is not on the team. Obviously, that will impact what we see from Matt Ryan under center after he was also subjected to trade rumors earlier in the offseason.
The second-biggest story is rookie No. 4 pick Kyle Pitts. The tight end is seen as a generational talent and should succeed out of the gate. Atlanta is going to need this with questions in the backfield and a defense that remains in the bottom 10 of the NFL.
Atlanta Falcons 2021 preseason schedule
|Friday, Aug. 13||vs. Tennessee Titans||7:00 PM||WAGA-TV|
|Saturday, Aug. 21||@ Miami Dolphins||7:00 PM||WAGA-TV|
|Sunday, Aug. 29||vs. Cleveland Brown||8:00 PM||NBC|
This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.
Week 1 — vs. Philadelphia Eagles
|Sunday, Sept. 12||1:00 PM||FOX|
- Spread: Falcons -3.5
- Moneyline: Eagles +148; Falcons -180
- Over/under: 48
For the Eagles, it’s going to be all about the maturation process of one Jalen Hurts under center. Should he perform at a high level as a sophomore, Philadelphia might compete for a division title. At issue here is a defense that gave up 27 passing touchdowns against eight interceptions. Expect Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts to take advantage of that here.
- Week 1 prediction: Falcons 28, Eagles 20
Week 2 — @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Sunday, Sept. 19||4:05 PM||FOX|
Tom Brady threw for nearly 800 yards with six touchdowns against one interception in two games against the Falcons a season ago. He’s been a perennial thorn in the side of this organization since Super Bowl LI. Is there any reason to believe this is going to change in 2021?
- Week 2 prediction: Buccaneers 35, Falcons 26
Week 3 — @ New York Giants
|Sunday, Sept. 26||1:00 PM||FOX|
One of the conference matchups Atlanta has to be gunning for if it expects to compete for a playoff spot, I am just not buying this matchup for new head coach Arthur Smith. New York’s offense should be vastly improved with running back Saquon Barkley returning and after the additions of wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. Expect that to be the difference here.
- Week 3 prediction: Giants 27, Falcons 20
Week 4 — vs. Washington Football Team
|Sunday, Oct. 3||1:00 PM||FOX|
Washington is a different mold of team in the modern NFL. It’s going to rely on a dynamic rushing attack and dominant defense in hopes of repeating as NFC East champs. Everything that WFT has done this offseason is building to that. It’s just not a great matchup for a Falcons team that wants the ball in the hands of quarterback Matt Ryan and Co.
- Week 4 prediction: Washington 24, Falcons 20
Week 5 — vs. New York Jets (London)
|Sunday, Oct. 10||9:30 AM||NFL Network|
It’s going to be interesting for first-year Jets head coach Robert Saleh. The former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator will see major struggles on that side of the ball with the Jets’ offense taking off under rookie Zach Wilson. If that is indeed the case, New York should have its issues against high-flying offenses. Even without Julio Jones, Atlanta qualifies, and should pull out a narrow Week 5 win.
- Week 5 prediction: Falcons 31, Jets 27
WEEK 6 BYE
Week 7 — @ Miami Dolphins
|Sunday, Oct. 24||1:00 PM||FOX|
The additions of Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller to work with young Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is going to make for a dynamic offense in South Beach. It’s also the type of offense (speed) that Atlanta’s defense should struggle with. That will lead to a devastating Falcons loss against a team it should be on par with right now.
- Week 7 prediction: Dolphins 27, Falcons 23
Week 8 — vs. Carolina Panthers
|Sunday, Oct. 31||1:00 PM||FOX|
These two NFC South rivals are going to look vastly different in 2021. It’s almost as if we can throw out their matchups in recent years. For the Panthers, that includes relying on struggling young quarterback Sam Darnold to do his thing. However, it’s going to be hard for Carolina’s greenish defense to matchup with a dynamic Falcons offense in this Week 8 tilt. Hence, a narrow home win.
- Week 8 prediction: Falcons 30, Panthers 24
Week 9 — @ New Orleans Saints
|Sunday, Nov. 7||1:00 PM||FOX|
If history tells us one thing, these two teams will continue to play close games. Even without Drew Brees in the mix, there’s also an expectation that homefield will matter for the Saints moving forward. They’ve won seven of their past 10 against the Falcons in the Bayou, a trend that will continue here.
- Week 9 prediction: Saints 31, Falcons 27
Week 10 — @ Dallas Cowboys
|Sunday, Nov. 14||1:00 PM||FOX|
Former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is now the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. He’s built an intriguing group, one that has to be improved from last season’s iteration in Big D. In no way does that mean it’s going to be an above-average unit. In what might be one of the highest-scoring games of the NFL season, I am predicting that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper do just enough to come out on top at home.
- Week 10 prediction: Cowboys 38, Falcons 34
Week 11 — vs. New England Patriots (TNF)
|Thursday, Nov. 18||8:20 PM||NFLN/FOX/Amazon|
Whether it’s Mac Jones or Cam Newton under center for the Patriots in 2021, their offense should be vastly improved from a season ago. In no way does this mean Bill Belichick and Co. will find themselves in playoff contention. Meanwhile, this is one of the types of games Atlanta needs to hold court at home. We’re expecting Matt Ryan and Co. to do just enough to come out on top.
- Week 11 prediction: Falcons 27, Patriots 17
Week 12 — @ Jacksonville Jaguars
|Sunday, Nov. 28||1:00 PM||CBS|
How much fun could this game be? Trevor Lawrence and what promises to be a dynamic Jaguars offense going up against an average Falcons defense. On the other hand, Matt Ryan being able to pick apart what was one of the worst defenses in the NFL a season ago. In the end, I will go with the Falcons here in a high-scoring affair.
- Week 12 prediction: Falcons 31, Jaguars 27
Week 13 — vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Sunday, Dec. 5||1:00 PM||FOX|
Atlanta was 0-2 last season against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, giving up a total of 75 points in the process. With major issues still outstanding on defense and given that Tampa Bay returns all 22 of its starters from last season’s Super Bowl team, there’s no reason to expect this to change come Week 13.
Atlanta Falcons schedule prediction: Buccaneers 35, Falcons 24
Week 14 — @ Carolina Panthers
|Sunday, Dec. 12||1:00 PM||FOX|
There’s an interesting backdrop to this Week 14 matchup. New Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot served in the Saints’ front office for 18 years prior to taking over in Atlanta this offseason. He’s attempting to build this team to win against fellow NFC South competition. Unfortunately, his team just does not have the talent to stop the likes of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr. on the road. Expect a narrow defeat here.
- Week 14 prediction: Panthers 27, Falcons 24
Week 15 — @ San Francisco 49ers
|Sunday, Dec. 19||4:05 PM||CBS|
The Kyle Shanahan game. Could this be Atlanta’s way of finally proving it has moved on from that era of Falcons football? I am not buying it in this Week 15 matchup in California. Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance under center, these 49ers have way too much firepower on offense for the Falcons to be able to stay afloat.
- Week 15 prediction: 49ers 31, Falcons 23
Week 16 — vs. Detroit Lions
|Sunday, Dec. 26||1:00 PM||FOX|
Without much to work with at wide receiver, new Lions quarterback Jared Goff should struggle in the passing game. For new head coach Dan Campbell, the goal will be to have a ball-controlled offense and see improvement on defense. This will be an issue Week 16 against a stout Falcons defense that yielded the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL a season ago.
- Week 16 prediction: Falcons 31, Lions 24
Week 17 — @ Buffalo Bills
|Sunday, Jan. 2||1:00 PM||FOX|
It seems foolish to believe that Atlanta’s pedestrian pass defense will be able to stop what Josh Allen and Co. bring to the table in this Week 17 matchup. The Falcons gave up 30 points or more six times a season ago. Buffalo’s offense averaged 31.3 points. You can do the math from here.
Atlanta Falcons schedule prediction: Bills 34, Falcons 27
Week 18 — vs. New Orleans Saints
|Sunday, Jan. 9||1:00 PM||FOX|
With that’s expected to be continued struggles on defense, Atlanta is going to have to rely on both homefield and what promises to by a dynamic offense in 2021. After New Orleans lost Drew Brees to retirement, this team will be relying more on its defense. That won’t change what we’ve seen in the recent past between these two squads with Atlanta coming out on top at home in a high-scoring affair.
- Week 18 prediction: Falcons 28, Saints 23