By Matthew Asher
After falling 23-27 to the now 3-0 Miami Dolphins, the Atlanta Falcons return home to the Georgia Dome where they will take on the other 3-0 member of the AFC East: the New England Patriots. If statistics can be trusted, this is a game Atlanta not only can win, but should also be able to prevent another comeback from the opposition.
While it may sound crazy, there is no reason Atlanta cannot give New England its first loss of the season. The main reason is because New England no longer has the elite offensive skill players to rack up stats.
The Patriots rank in the bottom half of the league in points scored, total yards and passing yards. Their running game is better, but it still doesn’t rank in the top 10. The 19.7 points New England scores per game, just like the 217.7 passing yards each game is the 11th worst in the league. The one bright spot in the Patriots offense is their running game, which gets 122.7 yards, the 12th most.
When talking about the New England offense of course Tom Brady is always mentioned. With a fairly young receiving corps supporting him, Brady hasn’t done anything spectacular. He’s completed less than 60 percent of his throws and has less than 700 passing yards with five touchdowns against two interceptions for a very pedestrian 79.4 quarterback rating.
There doesn’t seem to be a go-to running back for New England. The three most productive backs are Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen, and Vereen is not expected to play another down for several weeks due to wrist injury suffered against the Bills in Week 1. Ridley has rushed for more than 100 yards and Blount currently has 91. However, New England has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season.
But with such poor numbers, how is New England still undefeated? Their defense. When it comes to limiting their opposition, not too many teams do it better than the Pats. Giving up just 11.3 points per game, New England is second only to Seattle regarding points surrendered.
It’s not just the limited points New England gives up, they also do a good job of limiting yards gained by their opposition. The 309 yards of total offense and 188.3 passing yards given up each game are the tenth and seventh best in the league, respectively. Like their offense, New England’s rushing defense is the only aberration from the rest of the stats. Giving up 120.7 yards on the ground, their rush D sits at eighth worst so far this season.
The Patriots also do a decent job of ball control. Currently with a +3 in the turnover department, New England has recorded four interceptions – three of them by cornerback Aqib Talib – and also holds on to the ball more than 32 minutes each game.
If Atlanta wants to salvage this young season, this could be the signature win for them. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET. #RiseUp
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.