ATLANTA, GA- The Atlanta Falcons are now 1-2 and have dug themselves into a hole following a tough loss to the Miami Dolphins. With the unbeaten 3-0 New England Patriots on the slate for this Sunday, Atlanta will have to keep Tom Brady off the field with the balanced running attack they developed last week.
Steven Jackson is still out with a nagging thigh injury. This will give Falcons fans, and possibly fantasy owners, another week to get a good long-term look at Jacquizz Rodgers. It will be interesting to see how Rodgers fairs for a second week presumably taking the majority of the snaps from Ryan. Atlanta fans know exactly how talented Jason Snelling is. The man can do it all at his position; he does a decent job in between the tackles, he can pass block, he is able to catch it out of the backfield, and can even play the fullback position with Bradie Ewing out.
The pass rush of the Falcons has been up and down over the scant three weeks of play to judge upon. Last week it seemed that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan had the Dolphins’ number with the Falcons sacking Ryan Tannehill five times. Unfortunately, the Dolphins were able to battle back and take advantage of Desmond Trufant on just a few reasonable rookie mistakes.
However, the overall lack of pressure that Atlanta generates on a week to week basis may be accentuated over the next few weeks by the loss Sean Weatherspoon and Kroy Biermann. I know those losses happened in week two, but both men need at least two more players to replace the talent they offered.
The injuries to the Falcons have certainly slowed this team down a bit, but going forward they need to find an answer for this problem. Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez have only hooked up to the tune of only 11 receptions for 93 yards. Many thought Gonzalez would get more targets in the redzone especially since that is one area that Atlanta has struggled in over the course of their two losses.
The Patriots still present a stiff challenge offensively, but the offense of Atlanta will demolish their secondary. Matt Ryan is not a rookie starter or on a struggling team as was the situation with E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, and Josh Freeman. Two of those games they were lucky to escape.
Prediction: Falcons 31, Patriots 28
Here’s what our Patriots correspondent had to say in his game preview: Patriots at Falcons