Week 7 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New England Patriots
- QuarterbackThe Falcons know that no matter what the outcome is here, they can’t reverse last year’s Super Bowl outcome. However, if Matt Ryan can come close to matching what he did against the Patriots through the first 2 ½ quarters of that game, the Falcons will have an excellent chance of winning this game. While Atlanta has stumbled recently, the Falcons should be able to move the ball against the Pats.The Patriots are coming off hard-fought win over the Jets in which they overcame an early 14-0 deficit on the road. Tom Brady is playing with some discomfort in his left shoulder, but he is still performing effectively. Brady has already thrown for 1,959 yards with 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions. However, the future Hall of Famer has little margin for error because the defense is struggling
- OffenseThe Falcons should be able to run the ball well with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and head coach Dan Quinn needs to stick with the ground game well into the second half. Julio Jones could have a field day against a New England secondary that has struggled to stop ordinary receivers. That means Jones could torch them, while Mohamed Sanu is an excellent complementary pass catcher.The Patriots have been trying to establish their running game this year, but they have been much more successful through the air. Chris Hogan has become one of Brady’s favorite receivers because he can get open, stay balanced and run well after the catch. Danny Amendola is a security blanket for Brady, while Rob Gronkowski is a huge big-play threat.
- DefenseThe Falcons have one of the fastest and most athletic defenses in the league, but Atlanta has lost its last two home games to the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. That’s not good for a team that is going on the road with the idea of stopping Brady & Co. DE Brooks Reed leads the team with 3.0 sacks, but the Falcons hope to get pass rusher Vic Beasley (hamstring) back into the lineup.The Pats got pushed around early in the game by the Jets as they fell behind by two touchdowns, but the defense played better as the game went along. However, there is no comfort level for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia against the explosive Falcons. The Patriots rank dead last in yards allowed per game and passing yards per game, and they need a huge effort from DE Trey Flowers.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons have developed into one of the top special teams in the league. They do a solid job in punt and kickoff coverage, and they are hoping Andre Roberts can upgrade the return game. PK Matt Bryant has mad 10-of-11 FG attempts and is one of the best in the league.Special teams have long been the domain of the Patriots, and they remain strong in that area. Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner are both talented and smart in coverage. Stephen Gostkowski has made 13-of-14 FG attempts this season.
Forget about the revenge aspect of this game. Both teams need it, and mistakes and turnovers could decide it. The Pats need to improve their defensive play or they could be in trouble.