A.I. decides how the Falcons 2021 season will go.
Although regular season football has yet to return, the NFL’s preseason is well underway. With that, is the annual release of EA Sports’ Madden video game, with this year being Madden 22. Similar to last year, I’m simulating the Atlanta Falcons’ 2021 season on Madden 22 to see what fun statistics and outcomes are made within the virtual world.
Just to be clear, I am in no way interfering with whatever outcome the video game has for the Falcons. I won’t be signing any players or participating in any games to see what record and statistics the game predicts for the Falcons in 2021.
With that being said, let’s get to it.
Roster (Week 1-18)
QB: Matt Ryan, AJ McCarron, Feleipe Franks
RB: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javian Hawkins, Qadree Ollison
FB: John Raine
WR: Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Tajae Sharpe, Olamide Zaccheaus, Frank Darby
TE: Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Josh Harris (LS)
LT: Jake Matthews, Jason Spriggs
LG: Jalen Mayfield, Sam Jones
C: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman
RG: Chris Lindstrom
RT: Kaleb McGary, Willie Beavers
DL: Grady Jarrett, John Cominsky, Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, Adetokunbo Ogundeji
DT: Tyeler Davison, Chris Slayton, Olive Sagapolu
LB: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Shareef Miller
LB: Deion Jones, Mykal Walker
LB: Foyesade Oluokun
LB: Dante Fowler Jr., Brandon Copeland
CB: A.J. Terrell, Kendall Sheffield, Darren Hall
CB: Fabian Moreau, Isaiah Oliver, Avery Williams
S: Richie Grant, T.J. Green, JR Pace
S: Duron Harmon, Jaylinn Hawkins
There we some very surprising preseason decisions made, including the release of safety Erik Harris and fullback Keith Smith. Both probably won’t happen in real life, but interesting to see the game decided to make the moves and roll with undrafted free agents in their place.
Week 1: Eagles 28, Falcons 19
Week 2: Falcons 20, Buccaneers 28
Week 3: Falcons 52, Giants 24
Week 4: Washington 21, Falcons 25
Week 5: Jets 21, Falcons 24 (London)
Week 6: BYE WEEK
Week 7: Falcons 20, Dolphins 27
Week 8: Panthers 30, Falcons 20
Week 9: Falcons 40, Saints 34
Week 10: Falcons 28, Cowboys 21
Week 11: Patriots 28, Falcons 32 (Thursday Night Football)
Week 12: Falcons 29, Jaguars 24
Week 13: Buccaneers 38, Falcons 7
Week 14: Falcons 35, Panthers 32
Week 15: Falcons 21, 49ers 28
Week 16: Lions 23, Falcons 34
Week 17: Falcons 30, Bills 24
Week 18: Saints 35, Falcons 38
Wild Card: Falcons 24, Rams 7
Divisional: Falcons 27, Cowboys 33
So in the end, the Falcons had a pretty solid season. Probably a best case scenario in real life, but they finished 11-6 and swept the New Orleans Saints. Additionally, the team managed to not only make the playoffs, they made it to the Divisional Round where their season ended in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. This would be a fitting (or, depending on your perspective, unforgivable) end for the team to lose to former Falcons Dan Quinn, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee.
- QB Matt Ryan – 5023 yards, 409/640 attempts, 38 TDs, 17 INTs, 63% completion rate, 2 rushing TDs
- RB Mike Davis – 204 carries, 780 yards, 14 rushing TDs, 4 receiving TDs
- RB Cordarrelle Patterson – 123 carries, 459 yards, 3 rushing TDs, 7 receiving TDs
- WR Russell Gage – 86 catches, 1192 yards, 9 TDs
- WR Calvin Ridley – 73 catches, 1021 yards, 5 TDs
- TE Kyle Pitts – 102 catches, 997 yards, 11 TDs
- LB Foyesade Oluokun – 124 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 INTs
- DT Grady Jarrett – 46 tackles, 7.0 sacks
- CB A.J. Terrell – 99 tackles, 2 INTs
- K Younghoe Koo – 17/17 attempts, 55 long, 53/54 PAT
Not the most realistic statistics I’ve ever seen, but it is a game after all. Kyle Pitts had the season we all hope he will and Calvin Ridley somehow became the teams third receiving option. What a season for Russell Gage, who took a massive leap as the team’s second wide receiver putting up top wide receiver numbers.
Team Awards and League Outcome
Falcons Pro Bowlers
- QB Matt Ryan
- WR Russell Gage
- TE Kyle Pitts
- LB Foyesade Oluokun
- K Younghoe Koo
- League MVP – QB Patrick Mahomes KC
- NFL Coach of the Year – Arthur Smith ATL
- AFC/NFC Offensive Player of the Year – QB Patrick Mahomes KC, RB Christian McCaffrey CAR
- AFC/NFC Defensive Player of the Year – LB Von Miller DEN, DT Aaron Donald LAR
- AFC/NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year – QB Zach Wilson NYJ, QB Justin Fields CHI
- AFC/NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah CLE, LB Jamis Davis WAS
- Super Bowl LVI – Cowboys 17, Browns 24
The Falcons’ Pro Bowl lineup is pretty believable, although I’d bet on Ridley making it over Gage. It’s hard not to be glad to see Oluokun finally getting the respect he deserves as a talented, young linebacker, even if it’s just in Madden for now. Also, it was great to see Arthur Smith take home the coach of the year award. After going 11-6 and making it deep into the playoffs, he obviously deserved it.
Well folks, that pretty much does it. I appreciate you all joining me on this fascinating, surreal journey of what technically could happen in 2021 for the Falcons. Although unrealistic at times, the game thinks the Falcons will at minimum be a playoff contender this year. I’m not sure I believe that quite yet, but I will happily take all of the optimism I can get.
Madden 22 is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Google Stadia, and Microsoft Windows.