The Atlanta Falcons schedule does them no favors. The NFL decided to shift to a 17 game schedule and only dropped one preseason game in return.
How’s that for a team trying to find its footing under a new coach, no Julio Jones, and some young players who are going to have to play key roles if this team wants to be successful?
It’s easy to say the Falcons must get off to a fast start if they want to make this a worthwhile season. Sure, every team wants to start off strong but that’s not necessarily the case for Atlanta.
The Atlanta Falcons most important game of the 2021 season
The simple answer – Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins.
It’s perfectly acceptable for the Falcons to stumble out of the gate. The team has a lot to figure out and even for an experienced quarterback like Matt Ryan, there’s going to be an adjustment period. Keep in mind two of the Falcons’ first three games are on the road and week two is against the defending Super Bowl champs.
On the bright side three of the first four are against the NFC East, all who have shaky quarterback play, and then London against the Jets and another rookie. Enter week seven.
By virtue of traveling overseas, Atlanta’s bye week comes extremely early in week six. Add that on top of the 17th game they have to play and you’re in for a long back half of the season. There is no chance for the team to figure out the kinks against potentially struggling teams, there is no extended break and they have two games against the New Orleans Saints, one being the last game of the season.
That means Atlanta has to get early momentum going into the back half of its schedule.
Let’s say the Atlanta Falcons start off 3-2. (Though they could very easily go 4-1) A lot of people will look at them as pretenders. A loss to Miami to start off the season will do nothing but make that talk even worse and could put this team in a crucial spot to have to win games.
If Atlanta hopes to compete for a playoff spot which will more than likely require a 10-7 or 11-6 season, it starts with back-end momentum. Keep in mind too, only the division winner with the NFC’s best record gets a bye.
That means if the Falcons are lucky enough to make it into the postseason they could have to play 13 straight games with the Wild Card round or 15 straight if they make it to the NFC championship.
Let that sink in.
It’s almost like the first five games of the season won’t even matter at that point. But come week seven, against Miami, the Atlanta Falcons must play like they’ve been shot out of a canyon, or any chance at gaining momentum for a playoff run could evaporate before it starts.