ATLANTA FALCONS (3-2)
at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (4-2)
Gillette Stadium Ė Foxborough, MA
Kickoff: Sunday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: New England -3.0, Total: 56.0
The Falcons will be looking for revenge for what happened in last yearís Super Bowl against the Patriots on Sunday.
You probably already know it by now, but Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead against New England in last yearís Super Bowl. The Falcons completely dominated the game up until the third quarter, but the team got a little complacent and the Patriots battled their way back into it. New England continued to make a case that the team is a dynasty, and Atlanta has to deal with thinking about what could have been. Expect the Falcons to be fired up when they get out here because of that. They want to show that they can take it to this Patriots team, and the Falcons are also in need of a win here. They lost back-to-back home games to the Bills and Dolphins over the past two games, which is pretty unacceptable for a team that is supposed to be a contender. The Patriots, meanwhile, have now won four of their past five coming into this one. They havenít all been pretty, but New England is getting better as the season goes along and is a sure thing to be a contender come the postseason. They also have an insanely strong trend working in their favor, as the team is 10-0 ATS after allowing 17 points or less in two straight games over the past two seasons.
The Falcons can really use a win on Sunday night, but theyíre going to need to be a lot better than they have been recently in order to get that. Atlanta has lost games to both Buffalo and Miami over the past two contests, and New England is far better than each of those teams. QB Matt Ryan (1,357 yards, 6 TD, 6 INT) is the guy that must really be a lot better in this one. Ryan has been atrocious after having a career year last season, as he has now thrown six picks over the past three contests. Ryan canít continue to make mistakes as frequently as he has been, especially against this Patriots team. Atlanta canít afford to give New England more chances to score. One thing Ryan should really start to do more is get the ball to WR Julio Jones (25 rec, 367 yards). Jones has not yet caught a touchdown pass this year, which is pretty ridiculous this late in the season. He is one of the best receivers in the league and the Falcons need to give him a chance to make plays. They also need to make sure they get the ground game going, as both Devonta Freeman (353 yards, 5 TD) and Tevin Coleman (213 yards, 1 TD) are capable of tiring out the Patriots defense and taking pressure off of Ryan. And on defense, the Falcons need to limit big plays in the passing game.
The Patriots can improve to 5-2 with a victory on Sunday, and thatís pretty good for a team that people were panicking about just a few weeks ago. QB Tom Brady (1,959 yards, 13 TD, 2 INT) continues to play at an elite level for this New England team, as he had thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the league heading into this week and has only turned the ball over two times. His efficiency is truly remarkable at this point and he should be able to have a big game against this leaky Atlanta secondary. When Brady does go to the air, look for him to be targeting TE Rob Gronkowski (26 rec, 401 yards, 4 TD), WR Brandin Cooks (24 rec, 472 yards, 2 TD) and WR Chris Hogan (24 rec, 307 yards, 5 TD). All three of them have been incredible for the Patriots this season, and each of them is capable of dominating the game in a different way. As for the ground game, the Patriots will hit the Falcons with a heavy dose of either RB Mike Gillislee (290 yards, 4 TD), RB Dion Lewis (151 yards, 2 TD) or RB James White (33 rec, 252 yards) Gillislee and Lewis are both traditional runners, but White is a guy that is pretty much a wide receiver out of the backfield. He dominated the Falcons in the Super Bowl last year and could be called on to make plays here.