The New England Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome on Sunday Night Football at 8:30 p.m. EST
The Falcons are a dangerous 1 – 2 team while the Patriots are 3 – 0 and still in question by most.
The Patriots offensive line has had 5 false starts called on them through 3 games and in a very loud Dome it will be a challenge for them. The silent snap count will have to be on que and the offensive line for New England has to play a smart game and not make dumb mistakes, because Atlanta doesn’t need any help. The Patriots will get called for false start but the goal is don’t let it be in key situations and don’t let it be frequent. Beat the crowd noise is a must for the Patriots especially to start the game. Expect the Dome to be very loud tonight in prime time.
Finding the run game is a must for New England. It helps the rookies out and it helps calm the fan storm that will be in the Dome. New England’s offense especially without Gronk is better when they have a run game, it is a big deal to establish it tonight. I think they do it with Brandon Bolden who surprisingly got the start last week. Bolden made an impact not only on the ground but through the air too, and he only had 3 carries but for 50+ yards last Sunday so I look for him to get a lot more touches on the ground. I still don’t think Ridley plays much in this game unless when he does get a carry he gets a big gain and becomes the hot hand. But since Bolden is the best pass catching back, he will get the most touches and if he has a game like last Sunday, he will go a long way in helping New England out.
On defense we know it is all about stopping the passing game of the Atlanta Falcons. DT Tommy Kelly said it best that he won’t go for the playaction, to him they always passing. Good call Kelly, they will run sometimes, but the passing game is the their bread and butter. New England’s improved secondary will be tested tonight going against Julio Jones. Talib will face off against a top 5 receiver in the NFL today and stopping him will win the game for the Patriots. Really it comes down to keeping Jones in check, if he stays in check the Patriots will win, if he doesn’t, the Pats won’t. Simple as that. Talib has a tall order but he wants to be paid, this is the first step in getting paid, shutting down one of the best receivers in the NFL. Kyle Arrington will also have a hand in this game, he will most likely cover Tight End Tony Gonzalez for the majority of the game, and Arrington is better when he is covering tight ends and runningbacks. Arrington has a good matchup with a great tight end and I have more confidence in this matchup then the Talib - Jones match. Hightower will be on Jason Snelling who did a lot of damage coming out of the backfield in the passing game for Atlanta last Sunday in a loss to the Dolphins. Hightower who has improved by many miles in coverage will have to slow him down, because the Falcons don’t need another weapon. If Hightower lets Snelling do damage in the run and pass then the rout could be on for Atlanta. I’m not kidding.
The biggest thing is New England has to survive the first half. Atlanta does most of their scoring and damage in the first half of games and cool down in the second. If New England can keep the score low and within striking distance (survive the first half) then they have a great shot at winning the game in the 2nd.