3 Ways The Patriots Can Beat The Falcons

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The Patriots and Falcons battle on Thursday Night this week, but I want to start elsewhere for a minute. The NFL world laughed at Patriots fans when they said this team can make some noise this season. They brought up memories of last year and how Belichick is nothing without his binky Tom Brady. Well, the Pats are coming off a trouncing of the Cleveland Browns where they won by 38 points and put the entire AFC on notice. Let’s not forget people had that Browns team as AFC contenders all the way up until the public embarrassment they suffered at the hands of New England. I just wanted to put everything into perspective real quick, sorry.

Now, the Patriots head into a Thursday night matchup against the Atlanta Falcons with the chance to match their win total from last season and get one step closer to taking over the East. Oh, and just to remind everyone, they are currently a HALF GAME back of the “wagon” that is the Buffalo Bills in their Division. Pretty good for a team everyone said was going to fall into irrelevance once Brady left, huh? So let’s break down the 3 ways the Patriots can beat the Falcons in Atlanta.

Contain Kyle Pitts

This is the obvious #1 on the Patriots list of things to do Thursday night. Pitts has looked just about as good as advertised this year and his stats back that up. Here’s where the rookie ranks this year among his fellow tight ends:

  • 4th in targets
  • 5th in receptions
  • 3rd in yards
  • T-2nd in yards per reception
  • 3rd in yard per game

Safe to say he is the most important part of that Atlanta offense. But Belichick is a seasons vet when it comes to taking away your primary option so I’m sure he has a plan for this. Whether it’s doubling him with Jalen Mills/McCourty or sliding Jackson on him, you best believe the greatest defensive mind in NFL history is ready for the challenge. When you take away Kyle Pitts, there’s not a single person on this Falcons offense that scares you so look for Belichick to force Ryan to go elsewhere with the ball.

Ground and Pound

The Patriots have found their identity: they are going to bully you until they break your will. Their offensive linemen are beasts and their 3-headed monster backfield are, well, monsters. Ever since the inexcusable -1 total rushing yards against the Bucs in Week 4, the Patriots have rushed for over 100 yards in 6 straight games coming into this one. So to say this is the teams strength would be an understatement. The Falcons at giving up 122.1 yards per game (12th in the league) so the opportunity will be there to feast on the ground. With Stevenson and Harris finally with a clean bill of health, look for a heavy, successful, dose of both of those guys.

Cool Off Matty Ice

Matt Ryan has actually been a good quarterback this year. His stats won’t blow you away, but he’s certainly not as bad as many people think he is given how poorly his team has played:

  • T-7th in completion %
  • 10th in completions
  • 16th in yards
  • 12th in yards per game
  • 20th in passer rating
  • 13th in QBR

Those numbers won’t incite fear in you by any means, but they’re still respectable. But, in looking at these stats, this is a quarterback that the Patriots defense should be able to handle. This Patriots defense has been very good this season. And if you’re still a doubter, that’s fine. Allow me to prove you wrong:

  • 2nd in points allowed
  • T-4th in takeaways
  • T-2nd in INT’s
  • 3rd in passes defended
  • 8th in pass yards per game
  • 2nd in opponent QBR

The Patriots are currently in a 4 game win streak where their stats on defense have been towards the top of the league in almost every category in that stretch. The Patriots need to continue that trend and force Matt Ryan to look pedestrian. If they can do that, the Falcons have zero run game to rely on, so the odds of New England winning will be high. With Patterson being a gametime decision, Ridley still out and Pitts has their only option, the Falcons offense is due to be in for a long night.


The Patriots are winning this game. They are far and away the superior team and are in the midst of a 4 game win streak, like I mentioned before. Losing this game would severely cool off the momentum they’ve built over that stretch and that’s not something this team is interested in doing, especially with a huge AFC showdown against the Titans next weekend. The only way the Falcons win this game is if New England beats themselves. And as the season has progressed, the Pats have improved in that department, finally looking like the Patriots teams we’ve all come to expect.

The Patriots will run their way to a win here, improve to 7-4, and bring all the confidence in the world into Foxboro next Sunday against Tennessee.

P.S. Always remember…28-3.

(Photo credit: http://www.eagletribune.com)

(Featured Photo Credit www.tipsyredfox.com)

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Mike Sullivan (@msully5433 on Twitter)

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