TV Schedule: Sunday, Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Stadium: Georgia Dome
Weather: Low 59, High 81
Line: Atlanta (-2)
The New England Patriots are sitting at 3-0 early in the season — and this is even without some of the team’s top receivers from a year ago. Tom Brady has had to battle through the first three games without tight end Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Two of three of those guys are no longer on the team, but Gronkowski might play this week. That’s great news for Brady who is averaging just 219 yards passing per game, hitting Julian Edelman 27 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He has shown his frustration with the lack of receiving help by contacting former wide outs who have since left the league, asking them to make a comeback. Stevan Ridley is filling in for Shane Vereen in the run game and has been doing a mediocre job.
Matt Ryan leads one of the best offenses in the league, but the Atlanta Falcons have nothing to show for it with a 1-2 record. He has 909 yards and six touchdowns through three games, hitting Julio Jones 27 times with 373 yards and two touchdowns. Newly-acquired Steven Jackson suffered an injury in week two and had missed week three and could miss a few more weeks with the nagging injury. In his limited time, he had 14 carries for 77 yards while Jacquizz Rodgers has filled in nicely with 102 yards on 31 carries. This offense can rack up the yards and put up some major points, but have lost two close games this season. Atlanta could easily be 3-0.
Defensively, the Atlanta Falcons are not one of the best in the league. In fact, the Falcons are a lower-tier squad on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 25 points per game while also giving up 375 yards per contest. The major flaw in the defense has to be the secondary as it allows 296 yards per game — possibly giving Brady some breathing room. The Patriots are solid when it comes to stopping the pass and keeping people out of the endzone. They allow just 11.3 points per game while allowing just 188 yards per game through the air. Rodgers might have a breakout game on the ground, though, as the Patriots are one of the worst run-stopping teams.
PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Falcons 28