Last week the NFL’s plan to move to a 17-game season became official, with the Jacksonville Jaguars named as the “extra” AFC opponent for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. The change to a 17-game slate also prompted oddsmakers to update their over/under win totals for all NFL teams for the 2021/2022 season.
Using DraftKings as a representative example, the Falcons currently have an over/under win total of 7, which would be a modest improvement over Atlanta’s 4-12 finish in 2020. But it still leaves the team as the expected last-place finisher in its division.
Over/Under Win Totals for the NFC South
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11.5
New Orleans Saints: 9
Carolina Panthers: 7.5
Atlanta Falcons: 7
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Atlanta’s Strength of Schedule in 2021
In theory, the Falcons will benefit from playing one of the easiest schedules in the NFL next season. Atlanta is slated to go against all four teams in both the AFC East and NFC East, plus their usual home-and-home with rivals in the NFC South. The Falcons will also play the fourth-place teams from the NFC North and NFC West, as well as the aforementioned game against Jacksonville.
Prior to the addition of the 17th game the Falcons were slated to play the 25th-strongest schedule in 2021, with opponents having posted a win percentage of just .479. Naturally, the opposition’s win percentage is dragged down by the NFC East, where seven wins was good enough for Washington to win the division, following by the Giants and Cowboys with six wins each, and Philadelphia posting a mark of just 4-11-1. Adding a 1-15 Jacksonville team to the mix makes Atlanta’s schedule that much easier.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go between now and the start of the 2021 regular season and Atlanta has more opportunity than most to improve its team via the draft, with nine total selections (thanks to the addition of three compensatory picks). In fact, only one other team—the Dallas Cowboys—has more compensatory picks than the Falcons.
The Falcons are currently scheduled to pick in the following slots in the 2021 NFL Draft:
First Round: No. 4 overall
Second Round: No. 35 overall
Third Round: No. 68 overall
Fourth Round: No. 108 overall
Fifth Round: No. 148 overall, No. 182 overall (compensatory), No. 183 overall (compensatory)
Sixth Round: No. 187 overall, No. 219 overall (compensatory)
Seventh Round: No selection
Last spring Atlanta traded its 2021 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for edge rusher Charles Harris. Miami has since traded that selection (No. 232 overall) to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for former University of Georgia first-rounder Isaiah Wilson and a 2022 seventh-round pick. The Dolphins released Wilson just three days after officially announcing that trade.
Notably, the Falcons will play only seven home games at Mercendes-Benz Stadium in 2021, with the other ten regular-season games away from Atlanta. That’s because one of the team’s “home” games will be played in London at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium—against either the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles or Washington—arguably a slight handicap as compared to the rest of the teams in the division.
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