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Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots Preview

BangTheBook .comContributor ISeptember 27, 2009

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 20:  The cheerleaders for the Atlanta Falcons perform during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Georgia Dome on September 20, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NFL Football Betting Preview by Jay of BangTheBook.com
Sunday September 27th, 1:00PM Eastern

Sportsbook opening betting line – New England -4.5, 44.5 O/U

If we have learned anything from the first few weeks of football, it is that Matt Ryan’s rookie campaign was not any type of fluke. Ryan has continued to excel in his sophomore campaign throwing five touchdowns to just one interception and has the Falcons flying high once again at a 2-0 start.

Atlanta now must gear up for a trip to Foxboro, to take on the team many considered would be the best in the AFC this season, in the New England Patriots. However, the Patriots have not looked any bit dominating like so many football enthusiasts expected.

After coming off a miracle of a win over Buffalo, the Patriots fell to the Jets last weekend 16-9. New England now faces a tough Falcons team in a game most would expect to be must win to get the team headed back in the right direction.

Still, Atlanta has all the ingredients to have a big season. Ryan heads up the offense completing just less than 70% of his passes in charge of the solid passing game. The addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez has really given a lift to the passing game.

Gonzalez leads the team with 12 catches and 144 yards with 2 touchdowns. Gonzalez may be the most consistent target in Ryan’s arsenal, but you can still expect WR Roddy White to be a big focus throughout the year. As important as the Falcons passing game is, the running game is equally valuable.

Tailback Michael Turner had the 2nd most rushing yards (1,699) last year and is extremely important to the Atlanta offensive approach. If Turner runs well, the passing game strives. If Turner does not run well, the offense struggles and it is a simple trend. So the Falcons will be looking for all portions of their offense to click this Sunday as they try to bring down the mighty Patriots.

New England has just not had the success the offense expected. QB Tom Brady’s return had Patriots faithful certain they would return as the most dynamic offense in the league. However, the Patriots managed just 299 yards of total offense in their loss to an averaged Jets defense.

Brady holds a disappointing 76.8 quarterback rating throwing two interceptions to just two touchdowns. Also, the running game has failed to have any success with Fred Taylor leading in rushing yards with a minimal 71 yards on the season.

WR Randy Moss continues to make plays despite the rest of the offense’s struggles. Moss has 16 catches for 163 yards, but has failed to score. Wes Welker equaled Moss’ numbers last season, but he too is off to a slow start with just 93 yards in two games and 0 touchdowns.

The Patriots will have to get use to the lack of running game as they knew it would struggle heading into the season. However, there is no reason that with the talents they have at wide out they are not posting better numbers on offense.

What to watch for -

Both defenses are playing well early on. The Patriots have held opponents to just 265 yards of total offense. However, the most important part of their meeting with Atlanta is to stop Michael Turner in the running game.

If they can take away Turner and the running game, it will be a huge blow to Atlanta’s productivity. Ryan can win the game, but it will be much tougher if they can not run the ball.

NFL Pick of the week – New England will come out with all attentions to have their best offensive performance to date and Atlanta has the firepower to stay with them. Defense does not become a factor till late here. Take the over 44.5.

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