2021 NFL schedule: Three Falcons games for fans to circle

Editor's note: NFL.com is breaking down all 32 team schedules for the 2021 season. Here are the three games Atlanta Falcons fans should circle on their calendars this fall:

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.

Check out the full Falcons schedule below (all times ET):

Sept. 12 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Sept. 19 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)

Sept. 26 at New York Giants, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 3 vs. Washington Football Team, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 10 vs. New York Jets (London), 9:30 a.m. (NFL Network)

Oct. 17 -- BYE

Oct. 24 at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Oct. 31 vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Nov. 7 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Nov. 14 at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Nov. 18 vs. New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon)**

Nov. 28 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. (CBS)

Dec. 5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Dec. 12 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Dec. 19 at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)

Dec. 26 vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jan. 2 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. (FOX)

Jan. 9 vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. (FOX)

*Sunday night games in Weeks 5-17 subject to change; Week 18 game TBD

**NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change