As the 2021 NFL schedule continues to roll out, the Atlanta Falcons’ first primetime game has been unveiled. It’s a doozy.
The Falcons usually get one game on Monday and Thursday each season, with Sunday night games never a guarantee and usually skewed toward marquee matchups. We’ll know soon enough about that Monday night game, but the Thursday night game will, of course, touch a delicate nerve with recent history between the Falcons and Patriots.
Funny enough, the last three games between these two franchises have been in primetime: The team’s 2013 game in Atlanta (a loss) was on Sunday Night Football, and the pair had two primetime games in 2017, the Super Bowl (gag) and the foggy Sunday Night Football (another gag) rematch in New England.
The Falcons haven’t beaten the Patriots since 1998, pre-Bill Belichick. While the days of Tom Brady in a Pats uniform are long gone, New England will either be playing with longtime Falcons foe Cam Newton at quarterback or 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones. The Patriots underwent one of the most dramatic roster revamps this spring, adding guys like tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, pass rushers Matthew Judon and Ronnie Perkins, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
Even though this is a new Falcons regime, the spectre of Super Bowl 51 will still hang over this game, as will bloodcurdling commentary about that fateful night four years ago. As long as you can gird your loins for plenty of 28-3 references, this should be a fun home matchup and a good barometer for where this new iteration of the Falcons stands pre-Thanksgiving.
We’ll know the full schedule Wednesday evening unless the remainder leaks early, so be sure to keep following along with The Falcoholic for all your NFL schedule needs.