2021 Atlanta Falcons Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV Info

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

ARCHIVO - En esta foto del domingo 6 de diciembre de 2020, Julio Jones, de los Falcons de Atlanta, calienta antes del partido ante los Saints de Nueva Orleáns  (AP Foto/Danny Karnik, archivo)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

Despite a 4-12 record last season, the Atlanta Falcons enter 2021 with optimism thanks to the arrival of new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot. 

Smith spent the past two years as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator. He helped to turn around Ryan Tannehill's career and designed the scheme in which Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in each of the previous two seasons, including a 2,000-yard campaign in 2020. 

There's plenty of talent on the Falcons offense for the coach to work with. Matt Ryan is still a solid quarterback heading into his age-36 season, and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are among the best wide receiver duos in the NFL.  

The Falcons added tight end Kyle Pitts to that pass-catching group with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 draft. This offense has the pieces in place to be as strong as it was in 2016 under then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. 

The first test for Smith will be trying to stabilize an Atlanta franchise that has been trending downward since making back-to-back playoff appearances in 2016 and 2017. The team has had losing records in each of the past three years. 

With the NFL unveiling the 2021 regular-season schedule, here is the gauntlet the Falcons will be going up against. 


2021 Atlanta Falcons Schedule       

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Full television schedule can be found on the team's official website.



Based on opponents' 2020 winning percentage, the Falcons have the third-easiest schedule in the NFL, per Chet Gresham of DraftKings. The biggest reason for that is because they are matched up with the NFC East and AFC East in 2021. 

Those two divisions combined to have just two teams finish with a winning record last season: the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. That seems unlikely to be the case in 2021, especially if Dak Prescott stays healthy for the Dallas Cowboys and after the moves the New England Patriots made to upgrade their roster in free agency and drafting Mac Jones in the first round. 

While the teams outside of the division could end up better than they were last season, there are two significant question marks in the NFC South. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the class of the division on paper after re-signing all of their key free agents from last year's Super Bowl squad. 

But the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers have uncertain quarterback situations. The Saints, who have won the division in each of the past four seasons, don't have Drew Brees for the first time since 2005. Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are unproven as starters in the NFL. 

Albert Breer of The MMQB reported in February that Panthers owner David Tepper is "obsessed" with finding a franchise quarterback. The team appears set on going with Sam Darnold this season after acquiring him in a trade with the New York Jets

If the division isn't as strong as it was at the top last season, there could be a few more wins for the Falcons to make a move with an expanded playoff field. 


Pivotal Matchups

One reason the Falcons struggled in 2020 was their inability to beat good teams. They lost eight of nine games against opponents that finished .500 or better. Their lone win was over the 8-8 Las Vegas Raiders in Week 12. 

Of course, Atlanta has several opponents in 2021 that finished under .500 last year but should be improved this season.

The San Francisco 49ers were ravaged by injuries and erratic quarterback play, but they have a strong roster when healthy. The New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars have new coaching regimes as well as Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence, respectively, at quarterback. Each should make their team better, if for no other reason than those franchises have nowhere to go but up. 

If the Falcons want to challenge for a playoff spot in the loaded NFC, they have to show they can compete against quality opponents. That group includes the Bucs, Saints, 49ers, Dolphins, Bills and Washington Football Team. They also have to start winning games in their own division. 

Atlanta dropped five of six games against NFC South opponents in 2020. Those games could be the difference between a potential wild-card berth and missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.