Heading into the 2013 season, the New England Patriots‘ defense was facing many questions. One of those questions was how Aqib Talib would fare in his first full season with the team.
So far, he has exceeded expectations, holding guys like Steve Johnson, Stephen Hill and Vincent Jackson to only a few catches for mediocre yardage in each of the first three games. In fact, Talib has allowed just five catches for 81 yards and has three interceptions already on the young season.
As phenomenal as Talib has looked out of the gate, he will undoubtedly face his toughest, most explosive obstacle on Sunday night in Atlanta Falcons‘ WR Julio Jones. He is arguably the fastest, most dynamic receiver in the NFL right now. While Talib does have the size and speed to match up with him, it is still a tough matchup for anyone to cover Jones one-on-one in man coverage.
Fortunately for the Patriots, Roddy White, the other dynamic receiver on the team, has been playing hurt this season. As a result, he has not looked the same on the field in comparison to recent seasons. As a result, Alfonzo Dennard should have the upper hand against him, ultimately taking him out of the equation.
Tony Gonzalez should also have a quiet night. He should be bottled up pretty well most of the night by Kyle Arrington and possibly even rookie LB Jamie Collins.
It is very important that Talib continue his dominance Sunday night. How he plays could ultimately decide whether the Patriots can improve to 4-0 or fall to 3-1. In any case, he will be worth watching when the Patriots take on the Falcons in a nationally televised, prime time game.