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Two of the powers in the National Football League duke it out in an intra conference NFL preseason betting affair between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
Thursday, August 19th
8:00 ET, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Patriots Notes: QB Tom Brady is going to be the most watched man for New England this week if he plays. The leader of the Brady Bunch injured his finger in last weekend's victory over the defending champions, the New Orleans Saints. The injury isn't considered anything to worry about, but Brady might still not get a chance to suit it up, and if he does, it probably won't be for long. The bigger question is going to be who gets the reps at running back. Laurence Maroney might be seeing his time as a starter dwindling down to nothing. BenJarvus Green-Ellis might be taking over sooner than later, as he is proving to run the ball effectively throughout camp and so far in the young preseason. WR Julian Edelman will inevitably be a focal point once again, as he caught six passes for 90 yards last week. Edelman has a great chance to be the second or third wide receiver on this team this year depending on the health of WR Wes Welker. Defensively, a number of things are going to have to change to make HC Bill Belichick happy, as he doesn't want to see his 'D' giving up 24 points (even if a touchdown did come via special teams) during any game, let alone a preseason one.
Falcons Notes: The Falcons are a banged up bunch right now, especially at the wide receiver position. Don't expect to see either Michael Jenkins or Harry Douglas in action for the second straight week. That's going to make things a tad more difficult for QB Matt Ryan and his reserves. Last week in a 20-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at home, Atlanta only mustered a total of 244 yards. Reserve RB Jerious Norwood didn't play and might not again this week. That's going to put more pressure on players like Jason Snelling, who ran last week 11 times for just 24 yards to pick up the slack. The Falcons defense put forth a solid effort though, holding KC to just 273 yards, just 143 of which were through the air. The only touchdown the team gave up was with 0:18 left in the game on a Tyler Palko rush. The Falcons picked off two passes, which was a huge bone of contention last year. Atlanta had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last year, but things are already off to a good start this season.
The Final Word: Why the Falcons aren't favored by more than a field goal is beyond us. The Patriots, especially if Brady doesn't play, aren't anything special. The Falcons are clearly playing like a team on a mission right now on defense, so we don't see much coming in the way of scoring for the visitors. If the offense for the men in black and red can produce a couple TDs and a couple FGs, they should be just fine. Back Atlanta on Thursday night.
Prediction: Falcons 20 – New England 9