The Falcons schedule isn't one that measures on the brutal strength of difficulty scale, but its not a moonwalk out of obscurity into relevance either. So, let's look at a few key factors in the schedule:
The early bye
Typically, players and coaches don't like the early bye and with Atlanta's coming in Week 6 after their London game against the Jets, the Falcons must play 12 straight games. They're not the only team in the NFL that drew the early break (Saints, Jets and Niners also), but that's hardly an emotional salve.
However, with a new coaching staff and with the majority of the first five games looking winnable, the early bye might not be that awful. Winning early also will inspire confidence and help new coach Arthur Smith get the buy-in that is needed to be successful.
Regardless of the record at the bye, Atlanta should start figuring out its identity. It's going to take a few weeks since the first month of the season will be preseason for starters, but during the bye Smith and staff can figure out what works and what doesn't and streamline accordingly for the final two-thirds of the season.
The post-break yoke
After the bye, the Falcons travel to Miami, play host to Carolina, then travel to New Orleans and then Dallas before playing host to the Patriots on Thursday Night. By this time, those opponents should know what their about as well. The edge the Falcons have is Matt Ryan is firmly established. Will Tua Tagovailoa, Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill or Cam Newton/Mac Jones be?
If so, the Falcons better be ready because those squads have the talent to put up points in bunches. Even if they're still working things out on offense, defensively, those are teams that can cause a lot of problems, and before you clown the Cowboys, they should be better plus, their new defensive coordinator (former Falcons Coach Dan Quinn) knows a thing or two about much of Atlanta's most pertinent players.
Final four games
If the Falcons have their footing, meaning eight or nine wins, going into the final four games, then the word playoffs could be mentioned, could. Should be mentioned is a different term seeing as though three of the final four games are at San Francisco, at Buffalo and the Saints.
Not saying those games aren't winnable. Things happen over the course of a season where underdogs become favorites and princes become toads. It's why the games are played.
Steve Wyche is a senior correspondent with the NFL Network and NFL Media.
Take a look at these Verzuz inspired album covers that take you through the Falcons' 2021 schedule.