The NFL schedules were released Wednesday night, and the Atlanta Falcons were dealt a very manageable schedule compared to recent years.
This new 17-game schedule will be the biggest season ever schedule wise, and one of the most important for the Falcons in franchise history. The Falcons will look to bounce back from three-straight disappointing seasons and redeem last season's abyssmal 4-12 showing.
On paper, the teams the Falcons will play are beatable.
The Atlanta Falcons open the season home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The last time these two teams met in 2019, the Falcons won 24-20 thanks to a Julio Jones 54-yard touchdown. It seems like everytime these two teams meet, it comes down to the final play of the game. Given the uncertainty with the Eagles offense, this game seems like one the Falcons should win.
After the Eagles, the Falcons will have games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Washington Football Team, and New York Jets before the bye week. What makes this stretch of games difficult is the traveling from Tampa, to New York, to Atlanta, and then to London. The traveling will be the most difficult part of this stretch however, as both New York teams shouldn't pose too much of a threat, while Washington will most likley be among the worst teams in the league. Obviously the Buccaneers will be a tough matchup coming off of their Super Bowl Championship. The Bucs are also returning every starter from last season's team.
Coming off of the bye week, the Falcons will meet the Miami Dolphins, who won 10 games last season. Defensively, the Dolphins should be great as they were last season. Offensively however, the Dolphins have a lot of questions, specifically at the quarterback position. This is a very winnable game. The Falcons will then play the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, two winnable games against teams who also have questions offensively.
The Falcons will then play the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buccaneers, Panthers, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, and then the Saints.
Again, this schedule doesn't look that daunting. Every game on this schedule is winnable, with the most difficult game more than likely being the two matchups with the Bucs, and then the road game in January against the Bills.
The Falcons could win double digit games this season.
It may be crazy to say to some people, but this team could easily win double digit games. The Falcons seemed to have a great draft and signed a number of undrafted free agents that could make an impact at some point. They will play a huge role in turning this franchise around.
With a new coaching staff and fresh faces added to the offense and defense, it's very possible that all of this could mesh into a well-oiled machine. Arthur Smith was impressive calling plays with the Tennessee Titans, and he will have even more weapons to work with in Atlanta. Adding Kyle Pitts to the mix will only help boost this offense.
The Falcons defense should be at least somewhat improved, and if they can hold teams below 30 points, the Falcons could win several games on the back of the offense. Looking at the schedule, there are a number of teams on the schedule with offenses who more than likely will not scare anyone.
In 2016, the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl putting up 30 to 40 points on teams, and this 2021 team should be able to do the same. The only teams on this schedule who have offenses that the Falcons should be wary of are the Bucs, Bills, Cowboys, and maybe the Saints if Jameis Winston starts over Taysom Hill.
Overall, the Falcons should be happy with the scheduling. The 4-12 team last season had the chance to close out a number of games in the fourth quarter. If they had, the Falcons could've won five to six more games than they did. The team didn't need to fix a whole lot, so to think the 2021 Falcons could win 10 to 11 games isn't farfetched.
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