Patriots fans are probably making some witty “28-3” comments leading up to this game but the reality is that the Patriots have some major flaws right now. They have the worst passing defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed, they are 3rd worst in points allowed (26.5 ppg), and they are last in touchdown passes allowed (14 through 6 games). The Falcons have had this game circled since the schedule came out in the spring and I’m expecting the Falcons to perform much better than they have the past few weeks.
The Patriots have done nothing this season to demonstrate that they are dominant at home anymore – they’ve now lost at home to the Panthers, Chiefs, and squeaked by the Texans by 3 for their only home win. Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe are both out for the Patriots and you have to imagine that Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense are going to be dialed in for this matchup. Mohammed Sanu is back from injury today and will at least free up some space for the rest of Atlanta’s offense.
A lot of people are criticizing Atlanta’s new OC Steve Sarkisian and, rightfully so – Sarkisian hasn’t made the right adjustments in the 2nd half of games and the Falcons have been getting slowed down a lot in the 3rd and 4th quarters. If you look at the numbers though it seems like Sarkisian can fix some of these problems by running the ball more – when Atlanta was up 17-0 vs the Dolphins last week Sarkisian called for just 2 carries for Devonta Freeman in the 2nd half and just 6 carries for the team the entire half. That’s just inexcusable and sooner or later that should change.
You could make the argument that the Falcons will always have “28-3” stuck in their hands but they’re a mentally strong team – they started this season playing well after what was a brutally tough offseason. If they feed Devonta Freeman more it will help Atlanta all around. Freeman had 2 touchdowns in the Super Bowl on 75 rushing yards and 46 receiving yards but was given just 11 carries. I can’t explain how a player averaging almost 7 yards per carry in a game doesn’t get fed more but at some point Sarkisian, Dan Quinn, and the Atlanta offense are going to have to learn from their own mistakes and Kyle Shanahan’s big mistake in February.
When the Pats have the ball you want to focus on the Brandin Cooks vs Desmond Trufant matchup – last season with the Saints, Cooks had just 13 yards vs Trufant. He had just 44 yards in the 2nd game vs the Falcons. Chris Hogan is playing through a rib injury. Rob Gronkowski will probably break a few big plays but the Falcons have safety Keanu Neal and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell who can make it hard for him in double coverage throughout the game.
I hate betting against Tom Brady but the bottom line is he has a really bad defense and has been getting hit a lot behind this offensive line. Seattle came into Foxborough last season in a Super Bowl revenge game and they walked away with a 31-24 win. I’m expecting the Falcons to do the same thing tonight as they can beat New England’s defense and have the defensive personnel to play a strong game vs Brady.
All over the Falcons +3 in primetime tonight to get their revenge.