Less than a year ago, the Patriots made the comeback of all comeback, famously changing the narrative of the game as they defeated the Atlanta Falcons after trailing 28-3 in the fourth quarter. Only once every four seasons do the AFC East and NFC South square off in the regular season. This is one of those years, as the Falcons (3-2) travel to Gillette stadium as they seek revenge against the team that defeated them in America's most watched event.
In the 2016 season, the Patriots were the “it team.” The team with a strong passing and running game that also allowed the fewest points defensively. Despite injuries, the team was able to claim the number one seed and remain the biggest threat to a Super Bowl championship throughout the season.
New England carried that pedigree into this season, being labeled as the top team once again. Through the first seven weeks, they have failed to meet any of the defensive standards they were expected to reach.
Meanwhile Atlanta is playing well but also not at the elite level expected of them. Matt Ryan’s 65.9 completion percentage ranks as his lowest rate since 2011. His only game with over 300 yards so far this season came in week one against a Chicago Bears team that every internet titan needs to troll.
The skill players to go along with Matty Ice are amongst the best in the game. Regarded as a top 5 running back, Devonta Freeman has averaged a touchdown per game to this point, following up a strong 2016 season. His backup, Tevin Coleman, is an elite pass catcher, and would be the starter on a lot of NFL teams. Julio Jones ranks as one of the best receivers the league has to offer.
On the opposite side of the football, Atlanta has been strong. Through their five games, they have only allowed two rushing touchdowns. While they do rank in the middle of the pack in yards per attempt, they're strong at the goal line. While they have played one less game, the Falcons have allowed only half of the passing touchdowns the Pats have, with the Patriots allowing 14 and the Falcons 7.
Atlanta is coming off of a loss to the Dolphins, where they blew a 17-0 lead. The Patriots won on the road, overcoming a two touchdown deficit where the defense showed signs of life. But we know how the team has played at home.
Tyler’s tickets to victory for Atlanta:
Tyler's tickets to victory for New England:
I do not have a lot of confidence in the Patriot’s defense at this point in the season. Until the unit can prove me wrong, it's difficult to trust that they've improved. The Falcons are playing much better all-around football right now, and that trend will probably continue on Sunday.
My prediction: Falcons 37-Patriots 31
Tyler's record: 4-2
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