Photo Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons open the season on Sunday, Sept. 12, at home against the Eagles. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on Fox. Photo Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are looking to snap their three-year span of not making it to the playoffs and their schedule might set up them up with the best chance to do just that.

Atlanta has the third-easiest schedule in the NFL thanks to a 454 strength of schedule. This number is calculated by opponents' combined 2020 record. The Falcons plays only four teams who made the postseason last year: Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Washington Football Team and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Atlanta Falcons Schedule 2021

Preseason Schedule

Week

Date

Opponent

Location

Time/Network

Week 1

Fri. Aug. 13

vs. Tennessee Titans

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

7 p.m. | FOX

Week 2

Sat. Aug. 21

at Miami Dolphins

Hard Rock Stadium

7 p.m. | FOX

Week 3

Sun. Aug. 29

vs. Cleveland Browns

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

8 p.m. | NBC

The Falcons open the season on Sunday, Sept. 12, at home against the Eagles. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on Fox.

Here is the Atlanta Falcons' complete schedule for 2021.

Home: Eagles, Washington, Patriots, Jets, Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, Lions

Away: Bills, Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants, Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, 49ers, Jaguars

Week

Date

Opponent

Kickoff time

TV

1

Sept. 12

vs. Eagles

1 p.m. ET

Fox

2

Sept. 19

at Bucs

4:05 p.m.

Fox

3

Sept. 26

at Giants

1 p.m.

Fox

4

Oct. 3

vs. WFT

1 p.m.

Fox

5

Oct. 10

vs. Jets (in London)

9:30 a.m.

NFL Network

6

Oct. 17

Bye

7

Oct. 24

at Dolphins

1 p.m.

Fox

8

Oct. 31

vs. Panthers

1 p.m.

Fox

9

Nov. 7

at Saints

1 p.m.

Fox

10

Nov. 14

at Cowboys

1 p.m.

Fox

11

TBD

vs. Patriots

TBD

Fox/NFLN/Amazon

12

Nov. 28

at Jaguars

1 p.m.

CBS

13

Dec. 5

vs. Bucs

1 p.m.

Fox

14

Dec. 12

at Panthers

1 p.m.

Fox

15

Dec. 19

at 49ers

4:05 p.m.

CBS

16

Dec. 26

vs. Lions

1 p.m.

Fox

17

Jan. 2

at Bills

1 p.m.

Fox

18

Jan. 9

vs. Saints

1 p.m.

Fox

Key games

Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys, Week 10, Nov. 14, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn adds an interesting wrinkle here. His October ousting from Atlanta came after an 0-5 start, which included an absurd 19-point blown lead against Dallas in Week 2. Performances such as this haunted the club all season. This one will give the Falcons a chance to exorcise some of those demons. It remains to be seen how both restructured defenses shake out, but the Falcons' offense appears to be in good shape -- hey, Kyle Pitts -- for what could be a shootout against Dak Prescott and a potentially explosive unit.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 2, Sept. 19, 4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)

The history and experience between Matt Ryan and Tom Brady will again be the top focus, but Atlanta's porous secondary deserves multiple mentions. The talented yet young unit gave up a league-worst 293.6 YPG in 2020, adding more significance as to why this is such a key, early-season test. Containing Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will be a big ask, but it won't only depend upon the secondary. The inconsistent pass rush, led by Dante Fowler and Grady Jarrett, is going to need to prove it can pressure Brady enough to help in those efforts.

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers, Week 15, Dec. 19, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

Since moving on to San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan -- the offensive architect behind Atlanta's magical 2016 season -- still reigns as one of the NFL's best offensive minds. Ironically, first-time head coach and fellow coaching wiz Arthur Smith may be the closest thing the club has had to Shanahan since 2017. The schemes deployed in this one should make for an interesting game, especially if the Niners play Trey Lance, whom the Falcons reportedly had high interest in at draft time.

**READ MORE: Cleveland Browns Schedule in 2021 NFL: Dates/Time, Team News, Predictions & Key Games

Predictions

Photo Pinterest
Photo Pinterest

The Falcons are between eras right now. With Dan Quinn out and Arthur Smith taking over as head coach, it feels like the rebuild should be starting in Atlanta.

Instead, the Falcons have kind of just retooled around Matt Ryan, adding Kyle Pitts while holding onto Julio Jones for now. It gives the Falcons one of the most dynamic groups of skill players in the league. Even at 36 years old (when the season starts), Ryan should be able to torch secondaries.

That's good because he's going to have to. The Falcons were 29th in yards allowed last season and they didn't get appreciably better. It's hard to get excited about a free-agent class headlined by Mike Davis, Brandon Copeland and Barkevious Mingo.

To recap, the Falcons responded to a 4-12 season in which they couldn't stop anyone by hiring an offensive-minded head coach, drafting another offensive weapon and doing little in free agency that could be seen as a net-positive.

Smith and Pitts may help this team win in the long run, but there's little reason to believe they're going to help Atlanta's defense this year, bleachreport cited.

Falcons strength of schedule

The Falcons are favored with the third-easiest schedule in the NFL, with only the Cowboys and Eagles having it better. Atlanta's 2021 opponents posted a combined record of 123-148-1 last season, for a .454 winning percentage.

The Buccaneers and Saints account for facing four playoff teams. Luckily, the Falcons draw only two more outside the division, the Bills and Washington.

Toughest tests: The Falcons' road schedule is deceptive. The 49ers are more like the 2019 version and the Dolphins were a near-playoff team in 2020. Then beyond the visits to the Bills, Bucs and Saints, the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys and the revamped Giants also loom.

Biggest breaks: There isn't much after the Jaguars, Jets and Lions. The Eagles and Patriots are winnable games at home. The Falcons' biggest goal might be just displacing the Panthers in front of them in the standings.

Bottom line: The Falcons have a weird schedule because their "weak" games are tougher than they appear, while their "tough" games aren't as stacked as they seem. With the built-in difficulties, it's hard to expect a big jump in win total.

Smith will get the offense rolling, but the defense will hurt Atlanta with a lot of a high-scoring teams on the slate.

Record prediction: 6-11

Biggest takeaway

December and late January are going to decide Atlanta’s 2021 fate. Three road games out of the final five – including an early January trip to Buffalo where temperatures could be 50 degrees colder than in Atlanta -- could prove incredibly tricky. Adding in a cross-country flight to San Francisco makes it a fascinating stretch in Arthur Smith’s first season. Even Atlanta’s preseason is going to be interesting, though, as the first game of Arthur Smith’s head-coaching career will come against his old team, the Tennessee Titans, on August 13.

One storyline to watch and/or one question that needs to be answered

The early bye (post-London) isn’t great and three of the first five games are away from Atlanta (two on the road and a game in London against the Jets) but the chance for a fast start to the season is there with all of the pre-bye opponents other than Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay having major question marks. Of course, the Falcons, with Smith as their head coach and an unpredictable defense, have their own problems to answer as well. But if Atlanta goes 3-2 or 4-1 to start the season, it should be in contention for the majority of the year.

How to watch Falcons' matches

Atlanta Falcon Schedule in 2021 NFL: Dates/Time, Predictions, Key Games and How to Watch
Photo Atlanta Falcons

Use a TV antenna to watch the games on your TV

If the game is on either CBS, NBC, FOX or ABC, you can likely watch it live free if you have an inexpensive device called a digital TV antenna. A TV antenna allows you to watch your local broadcast channels for free once you've bought the antenna. This however requires your home to be within range of the local station that is carrying the game.

Use official NFL apps to stream games online

While using an over-the-air TV antenna is still the best way to freely watch most NFL games, if the Atlanta Falcons game is on ESPN, NFL Network or is blacked out for attendance reasons, you can still watch it, albeit with a little bit of work involved.

If you are looking to stream NFL games online using one of their official apps, you have a few options:

NFL Gamepass - NFL Gamepass allows you to stream any NFL game after the live game has ended. This will be your cheapest and easiest option, but obviously you won't be able to watch the games live. There is a free trial available.

NFL Sunday Ticket - NFL Sunday Ticket will allow you to live stream NFL games from any device, but the catch is that you can only watch out-of-market games. This means if you live in the market you are trying to watch the game for, you'll need to mask your location with a VPN.

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