Tom Brady's Patriots are 3-0 this season. Image courtesy of boston.com
Atlanta and New England were both just one game away from the Super Bowl last season, but the former will be facing an uphill climb to reach the big dance if it can’t take out this Week 4 clash at home. The Falcons are 1-2 so far after dropping road games against New Orleans and Miami. Their only win came at the Georgia Dome with a seven-point victory over St Louis in Week 2.
Atlanta is a completely different team at home, though, and a remarkably good early season side. It has won 14 of its last 15 starts in home matches in the month of September since 2003. The perfect conditions inside the Dome and a fast surface are ideal for Matt Ryan and his gun wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Falcons are 12-1 in their last 13 matches in front of their rabid home fans.
Despite sitting 3-0, New England hasn’t set the world on fire this season. The Patriots stepped up a notch in their 23-3 victory over Tampa Bay last weekend and they have conceded just 34 points so far this campaign. The Patriots have been very solid on the road over the last couple of seasons with a 16-4 record away from home in their last 20 regular season games. Quarterback Tom Brady has been witness to plenty of changes with his offence of late, but he has adapted and hit rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for two TDs against the Bucs.
The last time the Pats opened 3-0 they went through the regular season undefeated six years ago. After averaging almost 35 points per game last season, New England is spluttering in the red zone putting up just under 20 points per game this campaign.
Since taking the reins in 2008, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith has amassed a 34-7 record at the Georgia Dome. His team is 22-3 backing up from a loss and it hasn’t suffered back-to-back defeats since 2009. The teams last met in Atlanta in 2005 with the Patriots sneaking home with a three-point win .
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