This week’s nationally televised Sunday Night football game features a Super Bowl rematch as the Atlanta Falcons travel north to take on the New England Patriots. Will the Falcons get their revenge or will the Patriots embarrass Atlanta again? Kickoff inside Gillette Stadium is at 8:30 PM ET.
Atlanta (3-2) has lost two straight games. Ironically, it’s 2 consecutive losses to the AFC East division. Before their bye week, Atlanta lost at home to Buffalo. After their bye week, Atlanta lost at home to Miami. Now, the Falcons have to travel to Massachusetts to take on the Patriots in their 3rd consecutive game against the AFC East. Will it be a 3rd consecutive loss for Atlanta?
New England (4-2) earned a hard fought victory over the New York Jets last weekend. The patriots have won 2 straight games and look to make it a 3rd straight. They will have a tough matchup this week as 2 of their top 3 corners will most likely be out. That’s bad news for a secondary that has to go against one of the league’s best receivers in Julio Jones.
The spread opened with New England favored by 3.5 points, but it currently sits at 3 points. The Over/Under opened at 53.5 points and has gone up to 56.6 total points. Since we’re going with the Over in this game, the lower you can find the Over/Under line, the better.
Everything within me wants to pick Atlanta and the +3 points here. But, this team just lost to the Miami Dolphins who have one of the league’s worst offenses. In fact, over their last 2 games (both losses), the Falcons have only scored 17 points per game. That’s a far cry from a team that was putting up nearly 30 points per game prior to this losing streak. Fortunately, they are going up against the worst defense in the NFL that gives up 454 total yards per game and 26.5 points per game.
Even better news for the Falcons is that the Patriots give up 338 passing yards per game, which is the worst in the league. With 2 of their top 3 corners most likely out, that is a recipe for disaster as the Falcons average 271 passing yards per game and Julio Jones is a one man wrecking crew. I fully expect Julio to dominate this game whether it’s through touches and yards, or just forcing the Patriots to triple cover him and allow others to make plays. One way or another, Julio will put his mark on this game.
However, for Julio to make his mark, he will need Matt Ryan to play better football. On the season, Ryan has thrown as many picks as he has touchdown passes with 6 apiece. This can’t happen in New England. You can’t give Tom Brady extra possessions. So, Ryan will need to take better care of the ball and push it down the field. I expect Ryan to bounce back this week and engage in a duel with Brady. I see both quarterbacks hitting the 300 yard mark in this game.
Brady is putting up impressive numbers once again. The old man has 1,959 passing yards on the season with 13 touchdown passes and 2 picks. He’s the reason the Patriots are 4-2 as he always gives this team a chance to win. New England averages 28.7 points per game and I see them hitting that mark in a shootout with the Falcons.
Since both teams will get their yards and scores through the air, I believe the winner of this game will be the team that makes more plays in the running game. With that being said, you have to give the advantage to the Falcons with the duo of Freeman and Coleman.
Freeman has rushed for 353 yards on the season, which is 63 yards more than the leading Patriots runner in Gillislee (290). And, Freeman has done that in one less game. Both Freeman and Coleman are deadly out of the backfield when catching passes and I see them outplaying the dangerous duo of Lewis and White coming out of the backfield for the Patriots.
I don’t see either defense really stopping the offenses in this game, which is why I am going with the Over for this one.
The Over has hit in 19 of Atlanta’s last 24 games and 5 out of their last 7 road games. The Over is 8-2 in the Patriots last 10 games and is a perfect 5-0 during their last 5 home games. The Over hast hit in 5 of the last 7 games between these two teams.
To sum it up, look for Brady and Ryan to duel it out in Foxboro with both quarterbacks breaking 300 passing yards. The big difference in this one will be the running backs of Atlanta outplaying the running backs of New England. I expect Freeman and Coleman to make more plays than the trio of Gillislee, Lewis and White for New England. I do believe Atlanta will win this one 35-31, but I’m sticking with the Over in this game just in case Matt Ryan decides to have another clunker of a game.