It’s a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night when New England visits Atlanta in a matchup of teams that both lost in the conference title game a season ago. “Football Night in America” will feature the two active quarterbacks with the best winning percentages as starters when the Patriots’ Tom Brady (139-39, .781) and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (57-24, .704) meet.
The Pats are 3-0 after a 23-3 win over Tampa Bay in Week 3. Brady, who has now thrown a touchdown pass in 51 consecutive games, connected with rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on two TD passes against the Bucs. Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to play this season and the Patriots are â??not optimisticâ?쳌 that tight end he will make his season debut against the Falcons. Two weeks ago, according to a report, the Patriots were bullish about his chances of returning for Week 3, and said he would â??definitelyâ?쳌 be playing in Week 4. No. 1 receiver Danny Amendola also will sit another week. The Patriots have managed to overcome a shaky offense by allowing 34 points. The 11.3 points-against average is tied for second with Kansas City and behind only Seattle’s 9.0. They are one of 10 teams to hold their first three opponents under 1,000 yards and have allowed an average of 188.3 yards in the air.
New England is second in the AFC in takeaways while cornerback Aqib Talib leads the NFL with three interceptions. The 1-2 Falcons will be in desperation mode after a last-second defeat in Miami (27-23) in Week 3. At home, Atlanta has won 12 of its past 13 regular-season contests. Ryan had 231 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-38 passing against the Dolphins for Atlanta, which dominated time of possession in the opening half, holding the ball for nearly 23 minutes. Atlanta’s Julio Jones led all receivers with 115 yards on nine catches for the Falcons, who lost despite a 377-285 edge in total offensive yards. Falcons running back Steven Jackson is expected to miss his second straight game with a thigh injury. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling are expected to again carry the load after combining for 139 rushing yards last week. Brady is 3-0 against the Falcons, including a 26-10 home win over Ryan in the last meeting in 2009. http://www.wagerweb.ag