Well, I hate to say I told you so. So I won’t. But I did. But I won’t. There’s nothing worse than picking your team to lose and getting it right. Well, maybe total and complete global annihilation. That’s worse. But just barely.
But the New Jersey Jets are just a better team at this point in the season. Our young defense hasn’t totally melded yet and our old offense hasn’t totally warmed up yet. We’ll see how the tables have turned in November.
On the plus side, I did get to watch the game on a giant HD screen. Which begs the high moral question, do you date a girl strictly for her television? I’d imagine, after reading this column, I won’t have to worry about that query too much.
On Sunday morning (West Coast time) we play host to the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Hotlanta! A young franchise quarterback, a young franchise halfback and an old franchise tight end have combined forces for one of the best offenses in the league and they look to continue their undefeatedness (not a word) against the .500 Pats on Sunday.
How do we match up? To the Gander Machine!
Quarterback – New England’s native son against an actual native son of New England (for his college years, anyway). Tom Brady is the superior talent, but last year’s top rookie has been performing better in the early stages of 2009. We’ve just gotta hope that once Tom gets his second wide receiver back he can start putting up Brady numbers again. Numbers like 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7.. Edge: Pats
Backfield – Michael Turner. Edge: Falcons
Receivers – Tony Gonzalez has been the main reason behind the Falcons early successes, giving Matt Ryan a reliable receiver the likes of which he hasn’t seen in his short career. Roddy White and Michael Jenkins are great as well. Randy and Welker haven’t truly shown up yet. Randy’s catching balls, he’s just not going anywhere after he catches them. And I’ve never seen Wes miss a game. Troubling. Our receivers – talent-wise – are superior. Now they just need to start playing like it. Edge: Falcons
Offensive Line – The New England O-Line is easily their biggest weakness and has been since late-2007. Atlanta has a young left side in Sam Baker and Justin Blalock and a veteran to guide them in Todd McClure. Still waiting on the arrival of The Berlin Wall (Sebastian Vollmer). Edge: Falcons
Defensive Line – Atlanta just lost its top nose-tackle for the rest of the season. New England’s top nose-tackle still hasn’t really arrived yet. The team that can pull off the better pass rush should have the upper hand in this contest. (Like my John Clayton impression? If I could just shape my head into a sideways-eggplant, I’d have it down pat!) Edge: Falcons
Linebackers – Gary Guyton stepped up big in New Jersey last week. He isn’t necessarily filling Jerod Mayo’s shoes, but he came awfully close on Sunday. This week he has a weaker O-Line to rush through, but a better halfback to rush after. This is the kind of game Adalius Thomas gets up for. A statement game. Edge: Pats
Defensive Backfield – Chris Houston and Erik Coleman are decent; but on the whole, this Atlanta secondary is the weakest we’ve seen thus far. Even weaker than the Bills. (Diss!) Springs and Bodden should be able to keep up with White and Jenkins. And a couple bonecrushing Meriweather hits could put Gonzalez out of commission. Edge: Pats
Coaching – I’ve never been a fan of Mike Smith. I thought he and his whole team were overrated last year and I thought the same going into this season. But you can’t argue with wins. This is a big one though. If Atlanta can pull off a victory in Foxboro, they’re a legit contender in 2009. If not, they’re still a couple defensive pieces away from the complete championship puzzle. Edge: Pats
Forecast – New England can’t dip to 1-2. They just can’t. This isn’t a must-win game; but…we must win this game. I’m a little more confident than the Jets matchup, but I wouldn’t bet we cover the four points Vegas is giving us come Sunday.
Prediction – Atlanta 13 New England 9
MVP: WR – Roddy White. For the second straight week, the Pats go touchdownless. With a 9-6 lead late in the game Ryan catches White down the sideline for the game-winning strike. A 1-2 start isn’t the end of the world, however. Especially with how sloppy the Bills and Dolphins have started off. I don’t think we’re gonna beat the Jets for the division this year; but a quiet little underdog wild card spot is exactly where Belichick likes to be.