The New England Patriots (6-4) beat the Cleveland Browns 45-7 to win their fourth straight game. The defense was relentless and pressured Baker Mayfield, eventually knocking him out of the game. Bill Belichick’s unit finished with five sacks and one interception.
The offense was on point as Mac Jones threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns; two to Hunter Henry and one to Jakobi Meyers for his first career touchdown pass. Rhamondre Stevenson, who started for Damien Harris, rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots will now face the Atlanta Falcons (4-5) on Thursday Night Football. The Falcons are coming off a 43-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry World. Let’s take a look at and preview this upcoming game.
Defense, Defense, and More Defense
Belichick is known for defense. This group has been good during their four-game winning streak. They are ranked fifth in total defense and have forced nine turnovers in that span while holding opponents to 12.5 points. They have kept the Browns and the Carolina Panthers to a total of 13 points the last two weeks. Matt Judon leads the Patriots with 9.5 sacks, while J.C. Jackson leads the team with five interceptions and 14 passes defended.
The Falcons offense is averaging 324 yards per game. Matt Ryan is having a decent season as he has thrown for 2,274 yards, with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Cordarrelle Patterson has been great for them this season and has done pretty much everything for the Falcons. He leads the team in rushing with 303 yards and has 39 receptions for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts is their leading receiver with 40 receptions and 606 yards with one touchdown. Belichick likes to take away a team’s top player. I think it will be Patterson due to his ability to both run and catch the ball. If the Patriots can contain him and limit Pitts, they will win.
Mac Jones or Matt Ryan
Jones started the season slowly, but he has been good as of late. He has thrown for 2,333 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He was known for his accuracy at Alabama and he is completing 69% of his passes. He is coming off his best game of the season, where he threw for three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 142.1 against the Browns.
Ryan, who was the 2016 Most Valuable Player, had one of his worst games last week against the Cowboys. He was 9 of 21 for 117 yards and two interceptions. However, he does have four 300 yards passing games this season, so maybe last week was just a blip on the radar. The Falcons are only two games behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC South division and only one game out of the final Wild Card spot.
This is going to be an exciting quarterback matchup. Ryan is a former MVP, and Jones is the most impressive and probably best rookie of the 2021 quarterback class. Ryan would probably have to have the better game for the Falcons to win. The Patriots may lean more on the running game since they are playing on the road. That is not to say that Jones could not have a big game. I think the Patriots will lean on the running game especially if Harris returns for this game.
How many times are we going to hear 28-3 during the broadcast? Any football fan knows what that score means. Only a couple of players remain from that Super Bowl LI classic and these are two different teams. This game is going to come down to if the Falcons can stop the Patriots. New England has been good during their win streak. Their defense was good and now they are playing much better. The Falcons are coming off a terrible game against the Cowboys, while the Patriots took it to the Browns. New England will not get caught looking ahead to the Tennessee Titans next week.
Patriots 31 Falcons 17
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