The Super Bowl 51 rematch is here as the defending champs take on the lead-blowing Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football. This is a tough game for the Patriots on a number of levels. Atlanta will certainly play with something to prove. They had the Super Bowl in hand before falling apart, and yes, it’s a new year and new teams, but the majority of the Falcons are going to play just a bit harder after seeing banner number five hanging over Gillette Stadium.
Then there’s the on-field part of the equation, where the Patriots are off to a horrendous defensive start and now have to face last year’s MVP and one of the best receivers in the game. No, the Falcons haven’t been quite as dominant this year and have in fact lost their last two-straight, both to AFC East opponents, but something tells me they’re going to bring their A game this weekend.
Seven weeks in, as we start to get a better and better sense of who this edition of the Patriots are, it seems like there might be something different about this year’s squad. Whether it was Mike Giardi’s piece here or Mark Daniels on NBC Sports last night, there are murmurs that this team is a lot more guarded and defensive about criticism.
Will that turn 2017 into a rehash of 2009’s “I just can’t get this team to play the way they need to” version? Only time will tell. That team proved over and over again that they weren’t mentally tough and, say what you will about the 2017 Pats, but they’ve certainly shown good resolve in the face of adversity thus far. Just because they aren’t as verbose or media-friendly as years past doesn’t mean they have character problems.
Still, this team has shown plenty of problems on the field. Unprecedented problems. Can they get those corrected and win their third-straight game of the season against a team that will be out for revenge and looking to drop the hammer early and often?
Here’s the gameplan to make it happen.