|Notes and Observations, Week 3: Offense Struggles, Patriots Top Raiders 16-9||If the Playoffs Started Today – MLB Week 24||Connelly’s Top Ten: Average Patriots Make Sunday Boring||Week 3 Preview: Raiders at Patriots, Sept. 21, 2014|
The transition to the new receiving corps hasn’t been pretty, but they don’t draw pictures on the scoreboard. Bottom line is that our New England Patriots have found a way to win their first three games. Fans are used to seeing a well-oiled offensive machine out of Tom Brady and their frustration even amounted to boos this past weekend. I don’t see this as negatively as a lot of people do though. I’ve seen week-to-week improvement from the receivers and people are starting to get healthy.
I’ve also heard their 3-0 start getting dismissed due to the weak schedule. While there is clearly a point there, a win is a win is a win in today’s NFL. Also, division wins are big no matter how weak that division looks. Don’t be mistaken, there isn’t a team the Bills or the Jets want to beat more than the Patriots. Playing New England is the Super Bowl for those two teams, but the Pats survived them both. Tampa Bay on the other hand, stinks. They have a lot of big names but like I called after week 1, Josh Freeman didn’t make it through the season. But that game wasn’t a nailbiter. Could the offense have looked better, yes. But the defense was dominant and the score was lobsided as expected.
I think we’re watching this team transform before our eyes. Unlike years past, the Patriots have a defense now. This is a top ten unit with young rising stars. This is a defense first team. It is now their job to bail out the offense instead of it being the other way around like it has been the last decade.
I think everyone sees this matchup on the schedule and goes: Oh s**t it’s the Falcons. But fact of the matter is they’re a team that has lost two of their first three games. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying by any stretch that the Falcons will be a pushover. But they did lose to Miami last week. That isn’t a bad loss anymore as Miami looks like a threat to overtake New England in the AFC East. They also lost to the Saints in week 1 and barely beat the St. Louis Rams.
The big offensive names aren’t quite as in tact as years past. Newly acquired running back Steven Jackson will miss this game and more. Star receiver Roddy White has a high ankle sprain and even though he’s been playing, is merely a shell of his usual self. However, their QB and Boston College alum Matt Ryan continues to assert his status as a star thanks to the beast that is wide receiver Julio Jones. Even a depleted Falcons team still has a scary good offense.
However, the Falcons are starting to find out they don’t have a good enough defense to make up for a slacking offense. They lack the big names and the big play ability. They’ve allowed over 20 points in every game so far and haven’t showed an ability to get to the quarterback or create turnovers.
It’s not gonna be easy, but I think the Patriots will go into Atlanta and take this one. Besides Buffalo, Atlanta is the most generous New England has encountered so far and Tom Brady has had one more week to gel with the new wide outs. Add Rob Gronkowski possibly coming back and this offense could remind us of last season for a week. The key to the offense returning to form is the running game. For both Tom Brady’s and my fantasy team’s sake, Stevan Ridley needs to get it together. Legarette Blount and Brandon Bolden are talented and could end up playing major roles this week, but Ridley is number one for a reason.
As good as the Pats’ defense has looked so far, the Falcons will get theirs. The Matty-Ice to Julio Jones connection will have something to say here. A hobbled Roddy White may lead to Patriots fans finding out about a guy named Harry Douglas, Atlanta’s third receiver who could start for most teams. Tony Gonzalez is still a beast and Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers are more than capable of keeping the Patriots’ secondary honest.
I ultimately think the combination of how hobbled Atlanta is on offense and their lack of explosiveness on defense is what will have them coming up just short. The Pats will show the world they’re not going anywhere on the Sunday night primetime game. 27-24 Patriots win.