ATL-NE Free Pick
The marquee matchup on the Week 3 schedule will be in Foxboro this Sunday when the New England Patriots host the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons at 1:00PM ET.
The Falcons got off to a 2-0 start after beating the Panthers 28-20 last weekend in the Georgia Dome. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns while Michael Turner rushed for 105 yards and a score on 28 carries. Atlanta managed to cover the spread as 5.5-point favorites and are now 2-0 against the spread this season.
The Patriots dropped to 1-1 on the year following a 16-9 defeat at the hands of the Jets in New York. Tom Brady passed for 216 yards with an interception, while Fred Taylor rushed for 46 yards on eight carries. For the second week in a row, New England failed to cover the point spread, this time as 3.5-point favorites.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made the Patriots 4-point favorites over the Falcons on Sunday. The over/under total for this game has been established at 47.
While it would be incredibly foolish to doubt Bill Belichick and the Patriots while their backs are against the wall, New England just doesn’t look like the juggernaut that everyone thought they’d be with Brady back under center. In fact, the defense looks rather pedestrian and Brady still looks uncomfortable on that surgically repaired knee.
The Falcons meanwhile, look like a team in midseason form after knocking off two playoff teams from a year ago in their first two weeks. Ryan is playing like a five-year veteran and he has grown fond of his new toy, tight end Tony Gonzalez. If the Falcons can established Turner early in this game, Ryan should be able to pick apart a New England defense that has plenty of holes right now.
Again, it would be unwise to think that any team would go into Foxboro and wipe the floor with a Patriots team that has always rebounded well off a loss. Plus, New England hasn’t lost to a NFC opponent since 2005. But the Falcons match up well with the Patriots and as long as they can generate pressure on Brady, then they’re going to keep this game close, if not win it out right.
We like the Falcons +4 in this matchup and suggest taking the over as well, given that the total has gone over in four of New England’s last five games at home.
Our NFL Week 3 Free Pick for this game is: ATLANTA FALCONS +4 and OVER 47.
417 Atlanta Falcons +4 Over 47 Moneyline: +175
418 New England Patriots –4 Under 47 Moneyline: -210
Atlanta is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Atlanta is 5-13 SU in its last 18 games on the road
New England is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing Atlanta
New England is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games at home
Jerious Norwood, RB, Missed Wednesday Practice (head)
Jason Elam, K, Limited Wednesday Practice (left hamstring)
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Full Wednesday Practice (back)
William Moore, S, Full Wednesday Practice (hamstring)
Justin Peelle, TE, Full Wednesday Practice (back)
New England Patriots
Mark LeVoir, T, P-U-P List
Jerod Mayo, LB, Missed Wednesday Practice (knee)
Wes Welker, WR, Missed Wednesday Practice (knee)
Chris Baker, TE, Limited Wednesday Practice (ankle)
Dan Connolly, G, Limited Wednesday Practice (back)
Julian Edelman, WR, Limited Wednesday Practice (ankle)
Brandon Meriweather, S, Limited Wednesday Practice (ankle)
Myron Pryor, DE, Limited Wednesday Practice (calf)
Matt Slater, WR, Limited Wednesday Practice (elbow)
Terrence Wheatley, CB, Limited Wednesday Practice (knee)
Tom Brady, QB, Full Wednesday Practice (right shoulder)
Posted: 9/27/09 8:40AM ET