Philadelphia Eagles: The Atlanta Falcons are a perfect Week 1 opponent

Welp, it’s officially official.

While we don’t know the exact breakdown of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 2021 schedule, at least until later this evening, Nick Sirianni‘s squad will be migrating South to play another set of birds in Arthur Smith‘s Atlanta Falcons for a 1 PM EST bout on September 12th.

Is it the home opener many were hoping for against the increasing contender New York Giants? No, but considering both teams finished with top-10 draft picks and a combined 8-23-1 record in 2020, it should at the very least be a winnable game that could serve as a solid measuring stick for just how good/bad the Eagles will be this fall.

For me, in mid-May, that’s all you can really ask for in a Week 1 game.

There’s a lot to be excited about for the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1.

The last time the Philadelphia Eagles played the Atlanta Falcons was on opening day was in 2018.

Fresh off their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, the Eagles pulled out all of the stops for their home opener, inviting Meek Mill as their guest of honor while blaring his song “Dreams and Nightmares” over the speakers in an opening ceremony you can relive forever via YouTube fan footage here.

While the game wasn’t some massive blow out or one of particular note, it was nice to see the Eagles start their title defense off with a 1-0 record, especially since it marked the first and second to last time Nick Foles would play a home game to his adoring fans that season.

Since that glorious day in 2018, the Atlanta Falcons have not been particularly kind to the Eagles.

From dishing out a crushing loss to the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2019 season that saw DeSean Jackson suffer a basically season-ending injury and Nelson Agholor suffer a brutal drop that effectively wiped him of his Super Bowl season swagger, to taking many a Philly fan’s favorite player in the 2021 Draft in local product Kyle Pitts fourth overall, William Penn Charter School grad Matt Ryan and the Falcons haven’t exactly been kind to the fine folks of the City of Brotherly Love as of late.

Could that change come Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season? I guess we will have to see.

On one hand, the game will mark the debut chapter of both the Nick Sirianni-era of Eagles football and the Arthur Smith-era in Atlanta. Normally, having a brand new head coach gives a team an advantage early in the season, but if both teams are deploying first-time, first-year head coaches, that advantage sort of equals itself out, right?

Then again, the Falcons are returning a much more veteran team than the Eagles, who will surely bring out a starting lineup of fresh-faced youngsters anchored by veteran stalwarts like Jason Kelce on offense and Brandon Graham on defense. Will Jalen Hurts’ electrifying athleticism be enough to get the offense moving against Deion Jones and company? Or will the experience of Ryan outweigh the intrigue of Jonathan Gannon’s new-look defensive scheme?

Boy, oh boy, I’m getting excited already.

Considering the Philadelphia Eagles will have the luxury of a fourth-place schedule this fall – one final parting gift from Doug Pederson’s Week 17 tank job – landing a team like the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 who weren’t particularly good last season should serve as a solid measuring block for the team right off the bat. If they dominate, it’ll surely energize a fanbase unsure about how to feel heading into the 2021 season. And if they fail? Who really cares. It’s just Week 1, and the NFC East should be almost as bad in 2021 as 2020 was for football fans and not. It’s really a win-win.