NFL.com released their rankings of everyone’s schedule from hardest to easiest in 2021 and despite going 4-12, seven teams are deemed to have an easier schedule than the Atlanta Falcons. With the Falcons in the middle of a transition period, the schedule certainly did them no favors.
The Atlanta Falcons will face just four teams in 2021 that had winning records in 2020 – New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills. This will account for 35 percent of the schedule as the Falcons will see these four teams a total of six times.
The Bucs bring back all 22 starters from the Super Bowl win and will have the fourth easiest schedule according to NFL.com.
The remaining nine teams on the schedule finished 8-8 or worse last seasons – Panthers, Eagles, Washington, Patriots, Jets, Lions, Cowboys, Giants, and 49ers.
The issue with looking at what these teams accomplished or didn’t accomplish in 2020, is that all of them will look vastly different when they kick off against the Atlanta Falcons in 2021.
Of the 13 teams in the schedule, more than half of them will feature new quarterbacks than they had in 2020 – Saints, Panthers, Eagles, Washington, Jets, Lions, and 49ers.
No team will look more than different than the Patriots, who were the clear winners in free agency over the last month.
The Atlanta Falcons will be much different as well in 2021.
While the theme of the Atlanta Falcons 2021 schedule could be “change”, the Falcons themselves are will look a lot different as well.
Sure, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Calvin Ridley all come back this season, the franchise will have a different coaching staff and completely new schemes on both sides of the ball. As difficult as game planning will be for the 2021 opponents, the Falcons will be just as difficult for the same reasons.
Due to financial issues, the Falcons were unable to make a big splash in free agency though, free agency cost them quite a few starters from 2020 – Alex Mack, Keanu Neal, and Damontae Kazee are the big three.
If the Atlanta Falcons can nail the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, they will have a chance to win a lot of games in 2021 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
While the schedule doesn’t look too daunting on paper, the game is played on the field and there will certainly be challenges that lie ahead for new head coach Arthur Smith, there are games on this schedule that are winnable – especially if the veterans on this team buy into the new coaching staff.