Coming off their early bye week, will Atlanta be able to win one on the road?
The Falcons will travel to Miami after their early bye week to take on the Dolphins. It’s easy to forget that they finished at 10-6 in 2020, especially since they had so much draft capital from prior trades and moves. That season was built on the back of one of the better defenses in the league. The Dolphins were 11th in defensive DVOA. However, they ranked just 18th in offensive DVOA with most of the team’s productivity coming on the back of Fitzmagic. First year QB Tua Tagovailoa struggled a good bit and there are many that are concerned he is not the future of the franchise. Can the Falcons take advantage? Let’s see what our writers think.
Falcons 28 – Dolphins 17
This is a prediction I’m not at all comfortable with, but I’m just going to run with it. I think Atlanta will benefit greatly from the early bye week here. That extra week early in the season should lead to getting kinks in the offense worked out a bit more. While Miami had a good passing defense in 2020 on paper, a closer examination shows that any time they faced a good QB, they gave up 25 or more points pretty consistently. As for the Dolphins offense, I’m not sold that Tua is going to dramatically turn it around in year 2. Adding Waddle at WR will help … eventually. I just don’t think the payoff is going to be immediate. With all of that said, this game feels like more of a wildcard and my prediction is leaning this direction because of the early bye week. – David Walker
Falcons 24 – Dolphins 21
I’ve put together a back-of-napkin sketch of this schedule that I re-visit before each one of these, trying to see if I’m being unreasonable with a fresh set of eyes. I do genuinely think, as talented as the Dolphins are, that Atlanta can win this game.
Obviously there are some baked-in assumptions here that might be half-baked, but the Falcons offense looks like it’ll be good enough to put up points against a Miami defense that does have some weaknesses, as DW outlined above. I also don’t expect the Dolphins offense to be a juggernaut, at least not in the early going, and the Falcons should be able to squeak out a win here, especially if things come down to Younghoe Koo’s leg. It’s not the most confident I’m feeling about one of these predictions, but I think the days of getting absolutely destroyed by the AFC East might be over, and I think the Falcons will show themselves capable of keeping pace with a team that will be a factor in the other conference before long. – Dave Choate
Falcons 21 – Dolphins 24
This can be a tricky matchup on the schedule for the Falcons. Sure, you can easily say that the Dolphins were not playoff bound last season. But don’t overlook their 10-6 record despite not having consistent play at QB. If Tua Tagovailoa progresses this season, in my opinion, they are a playoff contender. The Dolphins were sixth overall on defense last season and recorded nine games in which they held their opponent to 21 points or less, going 8-1 in those games.
That young defense added a little more talent but it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins are able to handle a pair of athletic Falcons tight ends. This is sort of a pick ‘em type matchup and I can see either team emerging triumphant. But this game comes off an early season bye for Atlanta and I’m not sure how prepared they would actually be with the new coaching staff. – Eric Robinson
Falcons 17 – Dolphins 19
This may be one of the more interesting match-ups in 2021. Miami is an interesting team. It is supremely well-coached with an impressive young core. However, questions remain if Miami’s offense can win a shootout. Lucky for the Dolphins, their defense is stout enough to not get stuck in many shootouts. This game could easily go either way, but I think the team that wins in the trenches wins this game. That does not shake out Atlanta’s way with major concerns along the interior offensive line and nearly everyone on the defensive line outside of Grady Jarrett. This should be a close game, but ultimately I am very skeptical the Falcons can run the ball or stop the run. Those will be problems against Miami’s defense. – Matt Chambers
Falcons 31 – Dolphins 21
One thing about me: I tend to give a lot of weight to the importance of a bye week when a team has a first-year head coach. It gives the team a chance to really self reflect with actual live game footage. Coaches have to adjust to players just as much as the other way around, and sometimes a coach has a certain role in mind for a player who just isn’t well suited for it. The bye week is really the first real chance to get under the hood, because the demands of a game week are so great. I know there are a lot who lament a Week 6 bye for Atlanta, but I think it could turn out to be a good thing, because I think Arthur Smith and Dean Pees are two very good coaches. This has nothing to do with Miami for me, and I think the Dolphins are a good team with a great defense, but I think the Falcons come out sharp and take care of business. – Will McFadden
Falcons 24 – Dolphins 21
This is one of those intriguing matchups against an AFC foe whom you don’t see very often (well, outside of the preseason at least). The Dolphins are a team that are on the come up, coming off of a 10-win season and led by a defense which finished in the top five in the NFL in fewest points allowed last year. The potential loss of First-Team All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard could change that equation a bit for Miami, however, while Atlanta has the added benefit of coming off of a bye week coming into this matchup. I’m still not a firm believer in Tua Tagovailoa, and think that this is a game which the Falcons can eek out thanks to the added preparation. – Adnan Ikic