Pats Looking for Fourth Straight
Sunday Night Football comes to Atlanta this week as the struggling Falcons look to take on Tom Brady and the unbeaten New England Patriots. Atlanta is coming off a rough 27-23 loss to the Dolphins. The Falcons have struggled to get things going this season and sit an unimposing 1-2. Meanwhile the Patriots are sitting high and mighty at 3-0. That doesn’t mean it’s been an easy road, New England was barely able to skid by both the Jets and Bills. After a breakout performance by rookie wide receiver Kembrell Tompkins during the 23-3 romp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the Patriots stroll into the ATL with an unblemished record.
Injuries are going to be a major factor this Sunday Night. With both teams beat up at key roles, watch out for second string players on both sides to make an impact. Cornerback Kyle Arrington and Right Tackle Sebastian Vollmer, key players for New England, are both listed as questionable. All Pro special teams captain Matthew Slater is out with a wrist injury. Wide receiver Danny Amedola has missed the last 2 games with a groin injury and has been ruled out for Sunday night’s contest .
Speaking of former Rams, many Falcons fans expect a big season from aging star running back Steven Jackson, who signed with the team this offseason. Jackson has looked good so far in his first season with Atlanta, but with a pulled hamstring he will be watching his team play from the sidelines this week.
Atlanta’s dynamic duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones is also looking pretty beat up. Both receivers are listed as questionable, although are expected to play. Atlanta may also be without Left Tackle Sam Baker, who is listed as questionable with a foot and knee injuries. Former Patriot Asante Samuel is questionable with a thigh injury.
And of course every member of Patriots nation is waiting to see Rob Gronkowski’s first “Gronk Spike” of the season. After having offseason surgery on his forearm Gronk has yet to suit up for New England. Gronk’s status looked good on Friday and expectations were high that he would make his first appearance in Atlanta but Tom Brady’s favorite red zone option will be sidelined at least one more week.
Of course not every player is injured. Look for Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib to have another big game. With 3 interceptions on the season already Talib will be looking to add to his season total against a wounded receiving core lined up across from him. Aqib will still have his work cut out for him against former Boston College star Matt Ryan. The Falcons QB has thrown 6 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions through 3 games.
Every football fan knows that “Matty Ice” is virtually unstoppable in the Georgia Dome. The 28 year old boasts an impressive 34-5 record at his stomping ground. The former first round draft choice is one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. Look out for Matty Ice to exploit his star wide outs and future hall of fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez against New England’s bend-don’t-break defense.
With Matt Ryan’s blind side, Sam Baker, potentially sidelined watch out for Chandler Jones to have a huge game. With 3 sacks already on the season Jones has shown all of New England why Bill Belichick traded up in the 2012 draft to select the former Syracuse stand out. Baker v Jones is the biggest matchup this week.
My prediction this week is New England 24 Atlanta 10. Brady and his trio of young receivers have been getting better and better each week, I expect that to continue in Atlanta. The Falcons aren’t exactly known for their defense and with a less than 100% offensive attack I don’t see Matty Ice’s home record improving. Watch for a monster game from the Patriots defense during Sunday Night Football.