|GAME TIME||8:30 PM EDT|
PATRIOTS KEY PLAYER: JOHNSON BADEMOSI
Given that neither Stephon Gilmore nor Eric Rowe have practiced yet this week, the burden of covering Falcons’ star receiver Julio Jones may fall to backup cornerback and core special teamer Johnson Bademosi. Bademosi started in lieu of Gilmore against the Jets last week and did an admirable job — limiting receiver Jermaine Kearse to just four catches. Given his six-foot, 260 pound frame and physical style of play, Bademosi will likely be given the task of guarding Julio Jones while being given significant help over the top. While it is far from ideal, the Patriots will need to stop Jones without opening things up for the Falcons’ other weapons if they want to win this game.
FALCONS KEY PLAYER: JULIO JONES
While Jones has had a somewhat underwhelming opening to the 2017 season, he has a perfect opportunity to put up a big game, as he is potentially going up against Patriots’ backup Johnson Bademosi. Even if he doesn’t put up big numbers himself, the Patriots will likely be focused on giving Bademosi enough help, which will open things up for the Falcons’ other playmakers. Jones will need to have a big impact on Sunday if the Falcons want to win this game.
GAME PREVIEW AND ANALYSIS
In a rematch of Super Bowl 51, the Atlanta Falcons will be looking for revenge against the New England Patriots after blowing a 17 point lead to the Miami Dolphins last week. As could be expected, the Falcons’ offense hasn’t been able to repeat the success of the historical 2016 team, but they still have many good playmakers. And with Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe likely out, the Patriots’ defense will face an even tougher task in defending Julio Jones and co.
As for the Patriots’ defense, I would like to see some improvement from last week. The pass defense settled down in the second and third quarters last week after giving up fourteen points out the gate, but gave up at least one blown play when they were in prevent defense at the end of the game. If the defensive backs can avoid the glaring mistakes and big plays on defense this week, it will be another step on the right track for the unit. The run defense, on the other hand, made a big step forward this week, and will need to continue that improvement if they are to stop Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman this week. Overall, while I understand that they will likely not be perfect, I want to see the Patriots’ defense improve this week and show that they are capable of helping the team to another Super Bowl run. Tom Brady may be the GOAT, but he can’t keep it up all year.
Speaking of the Patriots’ offense, it has been a lot more streaky this year than it has in years past, and most of that can be attributed to the boom-or-bust nature of their new vertical passing attack. The offensive line has been tasked with, and has struggled to, hold their blocks for a few extra seconds while Brady eschews the wide open check down in favor of a deep ball to Brandin Cooks or Phillip Dorsett. While I understand that they can’t really rely on a very consistent dink-and-dunk kind of scheme without Julian Edelman, Tom will need to string plays together and avoid three-and-outs as the season goes on.