The Patriots head to Atlanta on a short week to take on the Falcons on Thursday Night Football (TNF) in hopes of extending their winning streak to five games.
While the Patriots are coming off their best performance of the year, blowing out the Cleveland Browns 45-7 and the Falcons are coming off their worst, a 43-3 pasting by the Dallas Cowboys, as we’ve seen in this crazy 2021 season, anything can happen from week to week, and on a short week, those factors can contribute easily.
That had to be the message that Bill Belichick hammered home to the team since their big win on Sunday and for the team not to get too high on themselves and believe all of the hype that now surrounds the team.
When the Patriots were 2-4, they kept saying that they were better than their record. Now winners of four straight at 6-4 they are proving that to be true. But tonight’s game is one they can…and should win. But it will have to be proven on the field.
So, here are our Patriots players to watch in tonight’s game.
Mac Jones — The Patriots’ QB had the best game of his young 10-game career with a very impressive performance against the Browns, tossing 3 TDs and having a passer rating of 142.1. If it seems like Jones is on here every week, it isn’t an illusion, but his place comes with the territory.
This Falcons team can be passed against but Dean Pees who many moons ago was the Patriots Defensive Coordinator knows how the offense likes to operate and has given the Patriots trouble in the past.
Damien Harris/Rhamondre Stevenson — The Patriots’ 1-2 tandem at running back should be back together tonight and that is likely how the Patriots will attack this Falcons’ defense.
In the past four games during the current winning streak, the team has rushed for more than 156 yards per game, that is no coincidence. And the Falcons defense is susceptible against the run. Look for a steady dose of these two as the team tries to control the clock, the tempo, and wear down the Falcons’ defense.
Matthew Judon — The Patriots’ biggest free agent signing and arguably their defensive MVP this season, will be looked at, just like every week, to set the edge in the running game but also to get after and pressure Matt Ryan.
Judon has 9.5 sacks already through 10 games and has been a terror to opposing teams, disrupting plays constantly. Look for him and rookie Christian Barmore to figure prominently in tonight’s game.
Myles Bryant — The Patriots will no doubt try to double up Kyle Pitts to try to take away the Falcons’ excellent tight end, and that may involve different combinations but their Falcons “X-Factor” if Cordarelle Patterson doesn’t play could be their diminutive but quick slot receiver Olamide Zaccheaus.
He’s just 5’8 and 190 but he’s quick, runs very good routes, and is adept at finding holes in zone coverage. Look for Bryant, who has been very good since Jonathan Jones went down with an injury to be matched up with him.
Hunter Henry — Watching Jones and Henry build their chemistry has been fun to watch. After having no scoring production through the first three weeks of the season, Henry has found the end zone seven times in the past seven games. Jones now feels so comfortable with his tight end that he’s throwing the ball before Henry is even coming out of his breaks…we’ve been waiting to see that type of chemistry with the tight ends since 12 and 87 left for Tampa Bay.
Something we’ve mentioned quite a few times on our podcasts is although fans and media have been somewhat impatient at times wanting to see more of a passing attack, it takes time for all of these new faces to gel, and think about all of the new faces on the Patriots offense this season (Jones, Henry, Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, and Rhamondre Stevenson). But it is slowly happening. Through the first 10 games, 60 percent of the team’s receiving yardage has come from players who are new to the roster in 2021. Look for Henry to have a big game tonight.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Atlanta Falcons Bill Belichick Cordarelle Patterson Damien Harris Hunter Henry Kyle Pitts Mac Jones Matt Ryan Matthew Judon Myles Bryant Olamide Zaccheaus Rhamondre Stevenson