The rematch is here.
After last season’s thrilling the Super Bowl in which the New England Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit in the second half to oust the Atlanta Falcons in overtime for the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy, the two teams are set to meet again at Gillette Stadium tonight on NBC at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Even with the Patriots (4-2) and Falcons (3-2) having above .500 seasons thus far, both teams have not played to their full potential.
New England has one of the worst defenses in the league, making marginal quarterbacks look like Hall of Famers.
Atlanta star wide receiver Julio Jones has shockingly not had a touchdown so far this season and quarterback Matt Ryan has not played like he did last year in his MVP season, as he has thrown just as many interceptions as he has touchdowns (six).
With New England’s defense struggling, and Atlanta’s offense being lackluster, something has to give.
The Patriots secondary will undoubtedly be tested, as they will be without cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe.
Malcolm Butler will cover Jones with safety help over the top, but Atlanta is returning Mohammed Sanu from a hamstring injury, which adds another layer to a weapon-heavy offense.
The linebackers will also be challenged from the likes of the dynamic duo at running back in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
Offensively, the Patriots offensive line should be wary of the powerful Atlanta defensive line in Grady Jarrett, who had two sacks in the Super Bowl, Dontari Poe, Brooks Reed, and Courtney Upshaw.
An interesting matchup to watch will be the athletic Patriots running backs in the passing game in Dion Lewis, James White, and Rex Burkhead, who is coming back from a rib injury against the Atlanta linebackers in Vic Beasley and Deon Jones.
Atlanta will be hungry to make a statement early, as it is coming off two straight losses to fellow AFC East members in the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. After losing to Buffalo, Atlanta had a bye week to get over the loss and prepare for the Dolphins.
It started out well, as the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but allowed Miami to score 20 unanswered points for the victory on the road.
Atlanta blowing a lead…. sounds familiar.