The 2020 schedule is set. We’ve known for a while who Arthur Smith’s men will face, but we now know exactly when they’ll face them. With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the 16 game slate, and how the Falcons fared in the fixture the last time the side met, with the divisional match ups referring to how each home and away fixture shook out last season.
Week One: vs Philadelphia Eagles, 09/12/2021, 1pm EDT
Last time out: Eagles 20 @ Falcons 24, 09/16/2019
Having let the Eagles get the better of them in their previous two meetings, Dan Quinn’s men needed a victory, both to break their duck, and also to get their own season back on track. Having taken an early 3-0 lead, the Falcons offense began to stutter, as their run game struggled to muster much of anything. Fortunately, the defense showed up, with Trufant hauling in two interceptions in the first half. Atlanta looked comfortable for the most part, before the traditional fourth-quarter collapse somewhat derailed their plans. With two and a half minutes on the clock, Carson Wentz managed to find Zach Ertz in the end zone to take a 20-17 lead, putting the ball in the hands of Matt Ryan. On fourth and 3, the Falcons dial up a screen to Julio Jones, who takes it home for a 54-yard touchdown. Not content with seeing it out, the Falcons gave the Eagles a glimmer of hope; Nelson Agholor dropped a sure-fire touchdown at midfield. Fortunately, Isaiah Oliver managed an unbelievable tackle on Zach Ertz, on fourth down, to hold the Eagles there and then.
Week Two: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 09/19/2021, 4.05 EDT
Last time out: Falcons 27 @ Buccaneers 41, 01/03/2021
Having lost 4 games in a row, it had become pretty clear that the Falcons would not be making the Raheem Morris experiment a permanent fixture. The Falcons were playing teams close, but just couldn’t get it done in the final stages. They headed to the Buccaneers, who had already secured their ticket to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The Falcons were playing for pride only, and were soundly beaten in the first half. They simply couldn’t get going, and, by the end of the first half, were 23-10 down. They did attempt to rally, however, scoring 10 points unanswered in the third quarter to cut the scoreline, but it wouldn’t be enough. Only down 30-27 with just over eight minutes to go, Tampa Bay decided to wake up, scoring 14 points to the end of the game, guaranteeing the 12 Falcons loss of the season. Atlanta ended 2020 bottom of the NFC South for the first time since 2007, and had a top 5 draft pick to show for it.
Week Three: @ New York Giants, 09/26/2021, 1pm EDT
Last time out: Giants 20 @ Falcons 23, 10/23/2018
Atlanta went into their Monday night match-up with the Giants having just ended a 3 game losing skid. Injuries had decimated the defense, and the Falcons hopes of seriously contesting the league’s elite were quickly diminishing. They hosted the 1-5 Giants, themselves having a pretty poor time of it. The game itself wasn’t particularly noteworthy. Atlanta were comfortable, despite not putting up many points, thanks to the Giants’ offense woes. They opened the scoring in the second half thanks to a beautifully throw touchdown off a deep pass to Marvin Hall, who had nothing but space to run into. Down 10-3 heading into the second half, New York tried to convert on 4th and goal early in the second, but failed. They would get the ball back thanks to a rare Julio Jones fumble, however they’d only be able to turn that position into three points. Tevin Coleman would all but ice the game, thanks to a 30-yard run, but that wouldn’t stop the Giants from attempting a comeback, scoring a touchdown AND a two-pointer to make it a 3 point game. But with only 5 seconds on the clock, there simply wasn’t enough time to make it count. An enjoyable win for the Falcons, all said!
Week Four: vs Washington Football Team, 10/03/2021, 1PM EDT
Last time out: Falcons 38 @ Washington 14, 11/04/2018
The Falcons travelled to Washington in week 9 of 2018, sat at 3-4. A series of injuries had decimated their squad, but they’d begun to rally, and a win against a Washington team at 5-2 would do their confidence wonders. From the first minute, the Falcons were utterly dominant. Alex Smith and company could barely keep up with the Falcons high scoring offense, who hung 38 points on them that day. On the defense, Atlanta notched 3 sacks, an interception, and limited Washington to just 14 points. The best part? Julio Jones, who’d come under a great deal of criticism for his lack of touchdowns, refused to be denied as he beasted home a 35 yard score.
Week Five: vs New York Jets, 10/10/2021, 9.30AM EDT (London Games Fixture)
Last time out: Falcons 25 @ Jets 20, 10/29/2017
The Falcons went into their week 8 trip to the Jets on a 3 game losing streak. That would be terminal for most sides, but a 3-0 start to the season had acted as a safety net, of sorts. Led by Josh McCown, the Jets weren’t exactly awful themselves. At 3-4, they were perfectly servicable, and started the game as such, scoring 7 on the opening drive. Ryan struggled early in the rain, giving up a fumble on the Falcons opening drive, but they steadied, and went into the half only 17-13 down. A field goal in the third brought the Falcons to within a point, but an excellent Mohamed Sanu touchdown, thanks entirely to Matt Ryan’s pocket presence, early in the fourth put the Falcons up 22-17, after a failed 2 point conversion. The Jets struck back with a field goal, and forced a punt from the Falcons, but the elements proved too much. They fumbled their own punt, and Atlanta restored their 5 point lead with a field goal of their own. Incredibly, the game was sealed by an interception. By Grady Jarrett. On a spike. Amazing.
Week Six: BYE
Week Seven: @ Miami Dolphins, 10/24/2021, 1PM EDT
Last time out: Dolphins 20 @ Falcons 17, 15/10/2017
Coming off an early bye week, and having lost a close one to the Bills the week before that, the Falcons were ready to shake off any questions over their 2017 prospects. Their opposition, the 2-2 Miami Dolphins, were a side more than capable of being dispatched with ease. It certainly looked that way in the first half, with the Falcons leading 17-0 at half time, thanks to scores from a Matt Bryant field goal, a deep pass to Marvin Hall, and a Tevin Coleman scamper. The Falcons would then decide to take the second half off to focus on next week’s trip to New England, and promptly blew it. They would have no answers for Jay Cutler’s Dolphins, leaning heavily on the legs of Jay Ajayi, who ended the day with 130 rushing yards. The Falcons would rally, pushing themselves into field goal range under the two minute warning. They would immediately shoot themselves in the foot, as Austin Hooper dropped a Matt Ryan pass into the waiting arms of Reshad Jones. Eesh.
Week Eight: vs Carolina Panthers, 10/31/2021, 1PM EDT
Last time out: Panthers 23 @ Falcons 16, 10/11/2020
The Falcons had started as poorly as was humanly possible, reeling off 4 straight losses, including 2 “defeat from the jaws of victory” efforts against Dallas and Chicago. The week 5 hosting of the Carolina Panthers really was the last chance for Dan Quinn and company to turn things around. They did, for a short while, look capable of achieving that. A Todd Gurley touchdown in the first quarter should have set the pace for Atlanta, but a second quarter implosion derailed them completely. Atlanta gave up 20 unanswered points, 17 in the second quarter, and never really recovered. They did threaten to tie things up in the fourth quarter, however an untimely Ryan interception ended that notion there and then. Carolina salted the clock away, made it a 2 score game, and put the result beyond any doubt. Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff were relieved of their duties the next day.
Week Nine: @ New Orleans Saints, 11/07/2021, 1PM EST
Last time out: Falcons 9 @ Saints 24, 22/11/2020
Coming off a week 10 bye, the Atlanta Falcons had some of confidence. They were 3-1 from the previous 4 games, and weren’t a million miles away from getting their season back on track. They traveled to their old rivals, were starting Taysom Hill rather than Drew Brees due to an injury. Could they get another one back, and claw their record to 4-6? Of course not! Atlanta had the lead, up 9-3 deep in the 2nd quarter. A late second-quarter touchdown (thanks to a very questionable no-OPI call) gave the Saints a 10-9 lead, and momentum that they would never give up. Atlanta simply didn’t turn up in the second half, putting up zero points, and allowing a further 14 from New Orleans. It was the performance that cemented the mid-season renaissance was nothing more than a false dawn, and black clouds descended over the Falcons once again.
Week Ten: @ Dallas Cowboys, 11/14/2021, 1PM EST
Last time out: Falcons 39 @ Cowboys 40, 20/09/2020
Atlanta were pretty poor in week one vs the Seahawks, and traveled to Dallas looking to right the ship. For a long time, it looked like they would. 20-0 up in the first quarter, thanks to a series of forced fumbles by an opportunistic Falcons defense, and 29-10 up at the half. On both sides of the ball, the Falcons were absolutely balling. Dallas would rally back in the third, scoring 14 points unanswered, before Atlanta put the game beyond any doubt with a touchdown to Russell Gage at the start of the fourth quarter. The Falcons were up 36-24. Dallas would try to drive back, but a failed fake punt put the ball back in Atlanta’s hands, who promptly turned it into another field goal. 39-24. With 5 minutes on the clock, Prescott found Schultz at the back of the endzone for a touchdown, but would fail to convert a two-pointer to keep it a two-score game. They would then force the Falcons to punt, and Prescott would sneak in for a touchdown to make it a 2 point game. Dallas attempted an onside kick, which coincided with every Falcons player forgetting the rules to an onside kick, and they recovered. Of course, they recovered. Seconds later, Dallas kicked a field goal to win the game 40-39. Ugh.
Week Eleven: vs New England Patriots, 11/14/2021, 8.20PM EST (Thursday Night Football)
Last time out: Falcons 7 @ Patriots 23, 10/22/2017
Having successfully thrown two very winnable games against the Bills and the Dolphins, the Falcons headed up to New England, hoping to avenge Super Bowl LI. To be candid, they did not. Atlanta were, for the most part, pretty shambolic. Largely excellent play from Matt Ryan was undone by a blocked field goal, a (failed) jet sweep on 4th and goal, and a defensive performance that gave up yards in bunches. Only Julio Jones ripping the ball from Malcolm Butler’s hands saved the Falcons from a shut out. As the fog descended on Foxborough, it became very obvious that revenge would have to wait for another day.
Week Twelve: @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 11/28/2021, 1PM EST
Last time out: Jaguars 12 @ Falcons 24, 12/22/2019
With nothing on the line but their pride, the Falcons rolled out the red carpet for the Jacksonville Jaguars, themselves playing for their jobs. Welcome to the definition of a “dead rubber”. The Falcons jumped to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, with Devonta Freeman registering a rushing and passing touchdown. The Jags would respond in the second, thanks to a Josh Lambo field goal, only to see it nullified by Younghoe Koo at the end of the quarter. Jacksonville notched another field goal, scoring the only points of the third quarter. The two sides would swap touchdowns in the fourth; the Falcons with Quadree Ollison, the Jaguars with Chris Conley. Jacksonville would attempt a two-pointer, which would be unsuccessful, killing off the game. With that, the Falcons would improve to 6-9, heading into the final weekend of the season.
Week Thirteen: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 12/05/2021, 1PM EST
Last time out: Buccaneers 31 @ Falcons 27, 12/20/2020
One of the more “under the radar” madnesses of 2020, the Atlanta Falcons hosted Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the eternal narrative of LI surrounding it. The Falcons were on a two game losing skid, and hoping to recreate the winning runs of 2018 and 2019, taking some momentum into 2021. For a long time, it looked like they would. Atlanta led 17-0 at half time, with touchdown passes to Russell Gage and Calvin Ridley opening the scoring. Tampa Bay bit back early in the second half with a Fournette run. Though, Atlanta regained their 17 point lead with a Hayden Hurst caught pass. Then the gearbox fell off. Goodwin and Fournette each scored touchdowns, and Succop kicked a field goal, to tie the game. With just over eight minutes to go, Atlanta looked to regain the lead, but couldn’t get the ball in for 7, settling for a Koo field goal. Obviously the Buccaneers took the lead, with a Antonio Brown touchdown. Atlanta’s offensive line fell apart, and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs, with no time outs, inside the 20. The defense stepped up, though, keeping the Bucs from picking up the first down. Despite no evidence they had picked up the first down, however, they were awarded the first down. Of course. Game over. Brilliant.
Week Fourteen: @ Carolina Panthers, 12/12/2020, 1PM EST
Last time out: Falcons 25 @ Panthers 17, 10/29/2019
Having been defeated by their own hand hosting the Lions a week earlier, Atlanta traveled to Carolina, on a short week, looking to right the Raheem Morris-led ship. From the off, Atlanta looked a far better outfit than the one humbled by Carolina less than a month prior. Gaining chunks of yards from play-action, the Falcons moved downfield, only to stall in the red zone and settle for a field goal. They would go into the second quarter 7-6 down, despite being largely on top. Carolina’s offense, itself, was clicking, scoring a touchdown off of a flea-flicker to make it 14-6. Atlanta would respond, with Ryan scrambling for a touchdown run of his own, and Atlanta would see out the half with another field goal. 16-14. Field goals were exchanged in the third, setting up a fourth quarter with the teams separated by only 2 points. Early in the fourth, Todd Gurley slammed in a touchdown, however the extra point skewed wide-left, keeping the scoreline to a single possession. Carolina would push down the field, in search of the potentially game-tying touchdown. With less than a minute on the clock, Bridgewater attempted to hit Moore in triple coverage, only for Ricardo Allen to come down with an interception. Ball game.
Week Fifteen: @ San Francisco 49ers, 12/19/2021, 4.05PM EST
Last time out: Falcons 29 @ 49ers 22, 12/15/2019
The 4-9 Atlanta Falcons flew out to the bay area to face the toast of the NFC, the 11-2 San Francisco 49ers. Atlanta had little else to play for but pride, and to manufacture some sort of momentum heading into 2020, whereas the 49ers were hellbent on laying waste to all who stood in their way. What should have been an offensive explosion quickly descended into something of a defensive battle, with the Falcons’ own defense keeping pace with the 49ers offense. With the score at 10-10, it was becoming possible that the Falcons might pull something off. A quiet 3rd quarter, in which the 49ers scored a field goal, made way to the fourth, which heated up very quickly. The 49ers put up another touchdown of their own, though missing the extra point to make it a 9 point game. Atlanta would respond with just over 5 minutes on the clock, thanks to a Quadree Ollison touchdown. Just inside the 2 minute warning, and San Fran kicked a field goal to make it a 5 point game. Back came Atlanta who, with 5 seconds left, saw an Auston Hooper catch ruled not a catch. The next play, Ryan hits Jones on a crossing route, who, after a review, was judged to have broken the plane. Touchdown Atlanta. Opting to kneel on the 2 point attempt, Atlanta squibbed the kick off to the 49ers. Some creativity in moving the ball around ensued, before the ball found its way back into their own endzone, where Olamide Zaccheaus gladly cashed in the touchdown. Crazy.
Week Sixteen: Detroit Lions, 12/26/2021, 1PM EST
Last time out: Lions 23 @ Falcons 22, 10/25/2020
One of the notorious losses of the Falcons 2020 season, Atlanta played host to an up and down Lions outfit looking to make it to .500. Atlanta started fairly slow, finding themselves 7-0 down at the end of the first quarter. A rally in the second quarter put them 14-10 up at half time, well on the way to their second win of the season, and their second under Raheem Morris. A quiet 3rd quarter, with only the Lions scoring a field goal in that time, set up the fourth. And then the silliness started. Up by a point, and well in field goal range, the Falcons made the decision to go for it on fourth and 5, which they did not make. On the ensuing drive, Detroit scored a field goal, to make it 16-14. The Falcons retaliated by putting together a methodical drive, whittling down the clock and picking up yards. Inside the two minute warning, Todd Gurley punched the ball in for a touchdown. It was the Lions, however, who were celebrating. Over 90 second on the clock, Matt Stafford put together a game winning drive, scoring the game winning touchdown with 0 seconds on the clock. Classic Falcons.
Week Seventeen: @ Buffalo Bills, 02/01/2022, 1PM EST
Last time out: Bills 23 @ Falcons 17, 01/10/2017
At 3-0, the 2017 Falcons were looking every bit as billed prior to the season’s start. The offense was clicking, and the defense was playing to a very good level. Everything was falling into place for another successful season. Buffalo, too, were playing well, though the week four matchup was certainly winnable. And, for long stretches, it looked as though that would be the case. A scoreless first quarter gave way to a more exciting second, with the Falcons going in at half time 10-7 up. Buffalo countered in the third, nudging themselves ahead 14-10, albeit from an incredibly questionable fumble call. Buffalo put themselves 17-10 up early in the fourth quarter, though Atlanta would answer with a Justin Hardy touchdown to tie the game up. Buffalo would edge ahead 23-17 through two field goals, either side of a deflected interception. Atlanta would drive down to the Bills 15 with a minute to spare, however they’d turn the ball over on downs, failing to pick up a 4th and 1 at the 10. Atlanta would fall to their first loss of 2017.
Week Eighteen: vs New Orleans Saints, 01/09/2022, 1PM EST
Last time out: Saints 21 @ Falcons 16, 06/12/2020
The 4-7 Falcons weren’t in a good way. Despite being better under Raheem Morris than Dan Quinn, they still weren’t a particularly good side. They had something resembling momentum, however, having beaten the Las Vegas Raiders 43-6 only a week prior. WIth Drew Brees still out, there was a little bit of hope that the Falcons could get one over their old rivals. Simply put, they did not. Though they made a game of it. The Falcons offense stalled repeatedly in the first half, being forward to settle for three field goals, heading into halftime down 14-9. They would fail to do anything in the third quarter as well, with the Saints adding a touchdown of their own to the score. Russell Gage found the endzone halfway through the fourth quarter, however, making the score 21-16. The Falcons forced a stop on the ensuing drive, as well, with only 5 minutes left. Cue the madness. Atlanta drove down the redzone, eating up the clock as they went. On 3rd and 2 at the 13, They handed the ball over to Gurley, who decided to run the ball backwards, losing 7 yards, and basically ending the game there and then. They would fail on 4th and 9, but get a longshot chance to pulling it off with 9 seconds to go. The hail mary would hit the turf, however, sealing their third straight defeat.