Falcons Odds: Atlanta Needs to Avoid Faltering vs. New England

patriots-falcons-super-bowlLast year, the Atlanta Falcons surrendered a 25-point lead to the New England Patriots and lost Super Bowl LI. Unfortunately, giving up big leads has become a trend for the Falcons this season.

Atlanta faces New England in Week 7, and they’ll be hoping to buck the trend that started in last year’s Super Bowl loss.

Can they do it? And can the Falcons cover the +3 spread that they’re facing at our GTBets sportsbook? Find out as we discuss Atlanta’s inability to hold leads and preview the Falcons vs. Patriots.

Atlanta Blows Lead Against the Dolphins

Atlanta has led in the second half of all five of their games this year. They were able to keep these leads in the first three contests, although they were only narrow victories.

However, the last two games have seen the Falcons blow leads to the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

atlanta-falcons-defense-super-bowlThe latter was particularly painful because Atlanta bolted out to a 17-0 halftime lead. This seemed like more than a comfortable margin against a team that had been struggling to put points on the board the last few weeks. But the Dolphins surprised everybody by erasing the 17-point deficit and coming back to win 20-17.

Coach Dan Quinn called the Week 6 loss “a tale of two haves” and said that he didn’t necessarily think the late-game struggles were due to “game management” issues. Instead, he believes that the team is playing not to mess up rather than to win when they get these leads.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a letdown. It’s not a case of like a letdown,” Quinn said when asked about the second-half struggles.

“Sometimes, and I’m not saying this is [the case], but you can over-try. I’m trying so hard not to foul up, and you’re not playing into your own self. We’ll look at everything. We looked at the four games that we had. We liked some closes that we had.”

What Happened in the Miami Game?

Following their trip to the Super Bowl last year, Atlanta is considered to be one of the NFC favorites again. But few would’ve predicted them to be sitting at just 3-2 thus far. Strangely enough, this is exact same record as the offensively challenged Dolphins have.

Speaking of which, last weekend’s collapse happened in three main areas for the Falcons. First off, they allowed a subpar Miami offense to score on five straight possessions in the second half. The offense was held scoreless because they were pushed around at the line of scrimmage. And then there was last year’s MVP Matt Ryan throwing the game-ending interception when the team was in field goal range.

It seems that the Falcons could make plenty of excuses after everything that went wrong. However, star receiver Julio Jones isn’t settling for excuses.

“Hats off to them today. They were the better team,” Jones said of the Dolphins. “But it’s on us. It’s a player-led team. We’ve got to find ways to win games. … We just have to go out there and finish the game.”

Atlanta vs. New England Odds

The Falcons will certainly be looking for revenge after blowing a 28-3 lead in 2016 Super Bowl. Of course, they’ll also be trying to play better in the second half.

“We’ve got to reset,” said safety Ricardo Allen. “It ain’t no other way. What you going to do, just lay down? There’s s— else you can do.

falcons-patriots-super-bowl“You’ve got be a man. You’ve got to know what we work for when we wake up every morning. What we grind for. What this team stands for. We’ve got to reset.”

Linebacker Vic Beasley also added, “I feel like we have to have a short-term memory. We’ve got a big game coming up with New England, the Super Bowl rematch. If we want to go back to where we were last year, we’ve got to definitely win.”

Interestingly enough, New England is coming off another situation where they rallied to win against the New York Jets 27-24. Controversial calls aside, the Patriots were just as clutch in this game as they were last year’s Super Bowl.

It couldn’t be more fitting that Atlanta and New England meet this week, with the former trying to avoid second-half collapses and the latter still making plays down the stretch.

The Patriots certainly have the advantage based on the fact that they’re playing at home. And while they haven’t looked as good as last season, New England is still considered a Super Bowl contender.

That said, I look for them to cover -3 at Gillette Stadium. Here’s a look at the current line at GTBets:

  • Atlanta +3 (+100), Over 55 (-110)
  • New England -3 (-120), Under 55 (-110)

5 Points on Patriots Win Over Saints & New Injuries

Tom BradyThe New England Patriots had a rough start to the season, losing 42-27 at home against Kansas City. But they’re back on track after pulling out a 36-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

New England quarterback Tom Brady was the star of the show, completing 30-of-39 passes for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski rebounded from a quiet game to catch six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Saints aren’t the league’s most-heralded team right now. Even still, the Patriots’ convincing victory shows that they aren’t suffering a Super Bowl hangover. Here are some key takeaways from the game against New Orleans and what to look for in next week’s contest.

1. Tom Brady was Excellent

tom-brady-patriotsMuch was made about Brady’s age following his performance against Kansas City. He threw for 267 yards and no touchdowns against the Chiefs. This had many wondering if the 40-year-old quarterback is entering the twilight of his career.

If so, you certainly wouldn’t know it by how Brady played against New Orleans. Beyond the eye-popping stats, he had some incredible throws. Examples include a touch pass to Rex Burkhead, a flat-footed touchdown TD throw to Gronk, and another perfect ball to Gronksowski that was dropped.

This performance was a far cry from last Thursday, when Brady consistently overthrew players. But we can give him a break since he lost over half of his starting receiving corp (Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola) before and during the game.

2. New England Played with More Emotion

Brady wasn’t happy with his teammates following the loss to Kansas City. He questioned the Patriots’ attitude and competitiveness following the contest.

“We just didn’t make a lot of plays tonight, actually,” said Brady. “So we just have to be better in a lot of areas, starting with our attitude and our competitiveness. We have to do a lot better than tonight.”

New England heard his message loud and clear because they played with a lot more energy against New Orleans. Gronkwoski started flexing after he scored a 53-yard touchdown.

The team got excited after a big special teams tackle by Harvey Langi. And Brady himself celebrated after throwing a TD to Chris Hogan.

3. Gronkowski Had a Great Game – But He was also Injured

Rob Gronkowski is trying to get back to the top of his game after an injury-plagued season in 2016. And he certainly got things going against the Saints. He looked like the old Gronkowski on his 53-yard TD, out-running and out-juking New Orleans defenders.

The only problem is that Gronk was slow to get up after his sixth-and-final catch. He headed off the field afterward and went to the medical tent.

The good news is that he didn’t aggravate the back injury that kept him sidelined half of last season. The bad news is that he hurt his groin and didn’t play any more snaps. Gronkowski did at least ride the exercise bike on the sidelines while watching the rest of his team’s victory.

4. Other Patriots Got Injured Too

New England hasn’t had much luck with injuries this season. As mentioned before, three of their top receivers have already been injured, with Edelman (ACL) done for the year.

The New Orleans didn’t bring much relief in this department. Rex Burkhead, playing in his first game as a slot receiver/running back hybrid, headed back to the locker room. Newly acquired receiver Phillip Dorsett went to the medical tent late in the contest. And Hogan was limping at various points during the game, although he remained on the field.

Amendola was forced to miss this game with a concussion and knee injury. Mitchell has been placed on IR, meaning he’ll miss at least 8 games, and Edelman won’t see the field until 2018. That said, New England can’t afford many more long-term injuries.

5. Burkhead could Play a Big Role Moving Forward

If Rex Burkhead is on your fantasy football waiver wire, you might want to pick him up. New England made a serious effort to get Burkhead the ball in the early going.

After getting just 4 touches against the Chiefs, he had 5 touches in the first quarter against the Saints. This included a 19-yard touchdown.

With Amendola out, Burkhead ran some routes out of the slot and also shared the field with fellow running back James White on occasion.

Starting Green Bay running back Tim Montgomery had a similar role last season until breaking out. We doubt Burkhead will get as much action as Montgomery when considering all of New England’s running backs. But he’s definitely a player to look for moving forward.

The only question is what kind of injury he’s dealing with, and if he’ll have to miss any time.

Patriots Betting in Week 3

New England hosts the Houston Texans next week on Sunday. Houston is coming off a narrow 13-9 road victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. That said, I don’t see the Texans contending with New England in Gillette Stadium.

This isn’t to say that Houston can’t be competitive. But they’ll be starting rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson in a road game against one of the NFL’s top teams. I look for New England to win the game 31-17.

The one X-factor could be the Patriots’ injuries. If Amendola isn’t cleared and any of the other players we discussed miss time, then this will be a much tougher game for New England than expected.

But don’t bet on this happening until any more injuries are confirmed for the Patriots.