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The Falcoholic’s annual NFL schedule roundtable

What game looks most difficult, what game are we most looking forward to, and what’s our earliest record projection for 2021?

NFL: DEC 27 Falcons at Chiefs Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All that’s left to determine now is the roster. The Falcons have gone through an offseason where they’ve turned over their front office and coaching staff, made a bunch of significant changes to the team, and now have their 2021 schedule in hand.

As always, our staff reacted to the schedule release with what they think is the toughest game on the slate, what game they’re most looking forward to, and our earliest record projections for the year.

Share your thoughts in the comments after you check in on ours!

Dave Choate

Toughest game: Week 17 @ Bills

Game I’m most looking forward to: Week 18 vs. Saints

Record projection: 9-8

I have been striving all offseason not to get my hopes up too high for the season ahead. I’m still having a hard time looking at this roster as currently constructed, with all my questions about the pass rush and the team’s depth overall, and thinking things will go as smoothly as any of us will like.

But this does seem like a manageable schedule, however early the bye may be, and I do think the coaching staff will make a big difference. I thought this team would slot in around .500 last year and they underachieved mightily, but I’m still a believer in the major pieces of the puzzle here, and bullish on guys like Marlon Davison, A.J. Terrell, and Mykal Walker taking the big steps forward this team badly needs to be relevant defensively. We’ll see how the summer goes, but yeah, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they wind up kicking around that 8-9 to 9-8 sweet spot.

The other games don’t need much explanation, do they? Buffalo is putting together a terrific team and playing on the road in January is a tough one, especially since Buffalo is occasionally under four feet of snow right around then. Capping off the season against a Saints team that could be a lot worse than last year in the cozy confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, though? That’s the good stuff.

David Walker

Toughest game: Week 17 @ Bills

Game I’m most looking forward to: Week 10 at Dallas

Record projection: 10-7

The first several games of the season normally don’t tell you the story of how the team is going to look for the season. That game against Dallas in week 10 could be a real benchmark for what this team could truly be in 2021. The schedule has some real challenges - such as only having 8 games at home with one of those in London (thanks a lot NFL) and a really early bye week - but there’s also a good number of teams in rebuilding mode and/or fielding young QBs. Atlanta could make a run if the offense can get their legs quickly. This does look like a schedule that the Falcons could bounce back with and I think there’s a decent shot they make the playoffs again in Arthur Smith’s first season.

Matt Chambers

Toughest game: Week 15 @ San Francisco

Game I’m most looking forward to: Week 1 vs. Eagles

Record projection: 9-8

I look for a few things in schedules. First, do the Falcons play anywhere I want to travel to? Related: it is about time for a team in Hawaii. Second, when is the bye week? Third, do the Falcons have a terrible stretch of away games? Four, do they have tough opponents down the stretch? The bye week is early. That’s not preferable for an aging team, but it is not as problematic for a team with new coaches installing a new scheme. I think the bigger problem is what leads me to my “toughest game” pick. I am not overly worried about Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers. I am worried the Falcons travel across the country for this match-up as Atlanta’s third road game in four weeks. Atlanta has 7 road games from Week 7 to Week 17. They cap the season off with the Bills in Buffalo, then finally the Saints in Atlanta. It will be interesting but the travel may catch up to this team.

With that said, there are so many games Atlanta could win and should, at worst, split. With competent coaching they should be competing for the playoffs.

Cory Woodroof

Toughest game: Week 17 @ Buffalo

Game I’m most looking forward to: Week 1 vs. Eagles

Record prediction: 9-8

I’ll be honest: the looming fear of a Julio Jones trade is keeping me from pushing my chips in on the Falcons this season. If the team indeed trades Jones, I just don’t understand how it fully competes like it wants to right away, even with improved play calling. The two worst seasons the team has had since 2007 (2013, 2020) have come when Jones had significant injury struggles; what happens if he’s gone?

I’ll give my strong hope in the new staff some room to prove me wrong, though. I like the opening month a lot, particularly getting that away game at Tampa Bay done with so soon. Having away games at San Francisco and Buffalo so close together toward the end of the season doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but this team has stole some weird games against superior opponents of late, so who knows. There’s just so much in the air right now, but I like the idea of the team finishing close to .500. I think I’d be more willing to give them another game or two if I for sure knew Jones would be part of the team moving forward.