In The Red Zone: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons Preview – Week 4

In The Red Zone - Patriots

This Week

New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons

The New England Patriots visit the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Sunday at 8:30 p.m.

The Patriots - The Falcons
Overall Record 3-0 Overall Record 1-2
Road Record 1-0 Home Record 1-0
NFC South 1-0 AFC East 0-1
NFC 1-0 AFC 0-1

Walt Coleman is the referee for the game

The Line/Prediction

As of Thursday the line on the game from Sports Betting via Yahoo Sports has the Patriots at PLUS 2.  The over/under is 49 1/2. 

My Prediction is Falcons 24, Patriots, 20.  Give the points (Falcons) and take the under.  I am 1-2 against the spread and 1 of 3 on calling the over/under in 2013.


Tickets to the game, if available, can be purchased through Ticketmaster.  You can check the availability here.

Getting to the Game

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the game in Atlanta make sure you check out the links.

Here is the up to date weather forecast from the Weather Channel for Atlanta GA.

Click for all the game day information including stadium directions, parking information and map and a Georgia Dome seating chart.


Here’s a bunch of different tailgating recipes from  There’s something there for everyone and every type of meal or snack.  I’ve tried some of the recipes and they’re very good. 

And with tailgating many people enjoy some adult beverages.  With that in mind check out Drink Nation for how to make all sorts of great drinks.  You can look things up by name, ingredient(s) or theme.

Whether it’s at the game, a bar or a friend’s house moderation is always the key to a great time.  Please don’t drink and drive and designate a sober driver.  Remember drive sober or get pulled over.



NBC in televising the game nationally and Al Michaels will do play by play while Cris Collinsworth will provide the game analysis and Michele Tafoya will cover the sidelines.  You can look here for your local affiliate.

Here are all the rules on NFL TV broadcasts including explaining the blackout rules; flex scheduling and commercial breaks.


The Patriots Radio Network broadcasts the game from flagship station WBZ-FM, 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston. Bob Socci handles the play-by-play and former Patriots QB Scott Zolak will do game analysis. It all starts with Gary Tanguay and Andy Gresh with the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. along the network. The post game starts after the final gun and continues for three hours along the network.

The Patriots Radio Network call is available on Sirius Channel 92, XM Channel 225 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 818.

The Falcons Radio Network has Wes Durham calling play by play and Dave Archer doing the color via their flagship stations 790 The Zone, WCXI-AM 790 and Star 94, WSTR-FM. 

Their call is available on Sirius Channel 93, XM Channel 226 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 801.

Westwood One has the national call of the game with Kevin Kugler doing play by play, James Lofton on analysis and Steve Tasker on the sidelines.

Their call is available on Sirius Channel 94, XM Channel 227 and SiriusXM Internet Channel 960.

Patriots All Access

Patriots All-Access features behind the scenes looks, interviews and breakdowns with head coach Bill Belichick and in depth features on the team.  It’s hosted by Steve Burton of WBZ-TV (Boston) and airs weekly in most New England television markets.

  • Boston MA on TV 38 Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Providence RI on WNAC Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m.
  • Manchester NH on WMUR Saturday at midnight
  • Portland ME on WMTW Saturday at 5 a.m.
  • Hartford CT on WCTX Saturday at 5 p.m.
  • Springfield MA on WFXQ Saturday at 7 p.m.
  • Bangor ME on WVII Sunday at 11 a.m.

You can also watch it anytime on the teams website in the media section.

Last Week

The Patriots won at home against the Buccaneers, 23-3.  The Falcons lost on the road to the Dolphins, 27-23.


  • This is the 13th meeting between the Patriots and the Falcons all since 1972.
  • The series is tied 6-6 with the Patriots having won the last three meetings.
  • Counting this meeting, six of the last eight games between the two have been played in Atlanta.
  • New England is 3-4 as the road team in the series.
  • This is the Patriots 5th game at the Georgia Dome.
  • The Patriots won the last meeting between the teams in 2009 at Gillette Stadium 26-10.

Patriots Team Notes

New England PatriotsHere is the Patriots roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2013 Patriots Schedule/Results

The Patriots overall franchise record is 429-369-9.  They have won three Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) in seven appearances.  Overall they are 24-17 in the post season.

They last appeared in the playoffs in 2012 when they beat Houston in the AFC Divisional Round 41-28 and lost to Baltimore 28-13 in the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots were 12-4 (1-1 in playoffs) in 2012 and are the defending four-time AFC East Champions.  They have won the division 10 times and the conference 5 times since 2000.

Since 2003 the Patriots have the NFL’s best record at 129-34.  The Indianapolis Colts are second 15 games behind.

The defense has not allowed a 4th quarter point in 2013.

New England is 3-0 for first time since 2007; it’s the 8th time in team history and 4th time under Bill Belichick.

With a win Sunday night they would be 4-0 for the first time since 2007 and 7th time in team history.

The Patriots are 18-16 all-time on Sunday Night Football, 6-7 in games on NBC.

New England is 3-4 vs. Falcons on the road, including 2-2 at the Georgia Dome.

The team is 33-17 in consecutive road games under Belichick.  This marks the start of back to back road games for the Patriots they will play at Cincinnati next week.

The Patriots have forced a turnover in 30 consecutive games.

New England has allowed 34 points in 3 games it is the fewest allowed by the team in the first three games since 1979 when they allowed 33 points.

Since 1994 the Patriots are PLUS 150 in turnover differential best in the NFL by a wide margin.

New England is PLUS 3 in turnover differential tied for 6th in the NFL.  They have 4 INT’s and have recovered 3 fumbles while they have thrown 2 INT’s and lost 2 fumbles.

The Patriots are 22nd in points scored averaging 19.7 points per game and are tied for 2nd in fewest points allowed with 11.3 points per game.

Patriots led the NFL in 2012 in:

  • Points, 557
  • First downs, 444
  • Touchdowns, 67
  • Total yards, 6,846
  • Turnover differential, +25
  • Total offense, 427.9 yards per game
  • Points per game, 34.8

New England set the following team records in 2012:

  • First downs, 444 (NFL record).
  • Fewest fumbles, 7

This is the 20th season of Patriots ownership by the Kraft family.  Since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 they:

  • Have the most Super Bowl wins, 3.
  • Have the most regular season wins, 208.
  • Have the most wins including playoffs, 228.
  • Have the most conference titles, 6.
  • Have the most division titles, 12.
  • Have the most playoff wins, 20
  • Have played the most playoff games, 31.
  • Are tied for the most playoff seasons, 14.
  • The fewest head coaches within the division, 3.
  • Have drafted the most Pro Bowl players, 20.

From 1960 to 1993 the New England/Boston Patriots won a total of 225 games.  With the opening week win over Buffalo in the 20 years the Kraft family has owned the team they have won 228 games including the three biggest in franchise history.

Patriots Staff Notes

This is the link to head coach Bill Belichick’s Wednesday press conference on the Falcons.

Bill Belichick is 3-1 against the Falcons; 3-0 as the head coach in New England.

Overall in his NFL career Belichick is 190-101 in his 19th NFL season as a head coach.  He is 154-57 with New England and 36-44 with Cleveland.  He is 18-8 in the playoffs, 17-7 as head coach of the Patriots in the post season.  When you combine his regular season and post season records he is 208-109.

Belichick’s 208 wins are good for 6th all-time.  Chuck Noll is 5th with 209 wins.

He has won 5 conference titles; he needs one more to tied Don Shula’s record of 6.

He is the first head coach to have had 4 teams that scored at least 500 points in a season.

Belichick is one of five head coaches in NFL history whose father (Steve Belichick) played in the league.  The others are former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley (Dick Haley), former San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan (Dick Nolan), former Cincinnati head coach David Shula (Don Shula) and former NY Jets head coach Joe Walton (Frank Walton).

Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three Super Bowls, joining Chuck Noll (4), Joe Gibbs (3) and Bill Walsh (3).  Those men are all in the Hall of Fame.

He is the only coach in NFL history to win three championship titles in four seasons.

No coach either as the head coach or an assistant has appeared in more Super Bowls than Belichick who has been to 8 (five as a head coach).

He is the only coach in NFL history to have led his team to 10+ wins in 10 consecutive seasons.

He has been NFL Coach of the Year three times he and Chuck Knox are the only three time winners, while Don Shula won four times.

Patriots Possible Starters


  • LT: Solder
  • LG: Mankins
  • C: Wendell
  • RG: Connolly
  • RT: Cannon
  • TE: Hoomanawanui
  • WR: Edelman
  • WR: Thompkins
  • WR: Dobson
  • QB: Brady
  • RB: Bolden


  • DE: Ninkovich
  • DT: Wilfork
  • DT: Kelly
  • DE: Jones
  • LB: Mayo
  • LB: Spikes
  • LB: Hightower
  • LCB: Talib
  • RCB: Dennard
  • S: Gregory
  • S: McCourty

Patriots Players Notes

Tom Brady Notes:

  • This is his 14th NFL season he is 3-0 vs. the Falcons in his career.  He is 62-26 on the road in the regular season.  He is 35-9 against the NFC in his career.
  • Overall he is 139-39 as a starting QB and is 17-7 in the playoffs for an overall record of 156-46.  He is an 8 time Pro Bowl QB; 3 time All-Pro selection; two time NFL MVP and has won 3 Super Bowls while twice being named the games MVP.  He is also listed as the 21st Greatest Player in the History of the NFL according to the NFL Network.
  • He is the only QB in any era to have 100 more wins than losses at anytime in their career.
  • His .781 winning percentage is the highest ever in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).  Roger Staubach is second at .746 and Joe Montana is 3rd at .713.
  • Brady has led New England to 10 Division titles, most by any QB in NFL history.
  • With his Week 1 comeback win over Buffalo he now has 27 4th quarter comebacks in his career, 6th most all-time.
  • 339 TD passes in his career make him now 5th all-time.  Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton is 4th with 342.
  • With one more TD pass he will be just the 5th NFL QB with 340 or more TD passes in his career.
  • Has 7 games with two 50+ yard TD passes in his career.
  • 139 career wins are 5th all-time.  Dan Marino is 4th with 147.
  • With a win on Sunday will be only 5th NFL QB to have achieved 140 regular season wins joining Peyton Manning, John Elway, Dan Marino and Brett Favre.
  • He had 30+ TD passes for the 3rd consecutive season and is just the fifth player to have four or more 30+ TD pass seasons.
  • Brady has thrown a TD pass in 51 consecutive games.  It is the longest active streak and 2nd longest all time behind Drew Brees’ record 54 game streak.
  • He has thrown for 2 or more TD’s in 109 games; the team’s record is 93-16.
  • He is the only QB in NFL history to thrown a TD in all 16 games in 3 consecutive seasons.
  • Brady has 53 300+ yard passing games in his career.

Rob Gronkowski notes:

  • I expect it to be about a 90% chance of Gronkowski playing against Atlanta on Sunday night.

Danny Amendola notes:

  • Had his first 100-yard game as a Patriot at Buffalo.  It was the third of his career.
  • Has been practicing most of the week but is expected he will not play Sunday against Atlanta it will be his 3rd game he has missed this year.

Julian Edelman notes:

  • Based on a minimum of 75 returns he has the highest punt return average in NFL history averaging 13.0 yards per return.
  • With 1 more punt return for a TD he will set a new team record.  He is tied at 3 with Irving Fryar and Troy Brown.
  • Had two TD catches vs. the Bills in Week 1.
  • It was the first time he had two TD catches in a regular season game.  In 2009 he had two in a playoff game against Baltimore.
  • Leads the team with 27 catches for 201 yards.  The 27 catches are more than he had all of last season.
  • He is tied for the NFL lead in catches with Atlanta’s Julio Jones.

Kenbrell Thompkins notes:

  • Had his first two career NFL TD catches against Tampa Bay

Stevan Ridley notes:

  • Rushed for 1,263 yards in 2012 and looks to be the 3rd Patriots RB to have back-to-back 1,000 yards rushing seasons.
  • He had 12 TD’s in 2012 and looks to be the 4th Patriots RB with back-to-back 10+ TD seasons.
  • Had two fumbles at Buffalo in Week 1 and one was returned for a TD.
  • Leads the team with 121 rushing yards through 3 games.

Shane Vereen notes:

  • Had his first 100-yard rushing game vs. Buffalo in Week 1.
  • Broke his wrist and had surgery and will miss about 4-6 weeks.
  • Despite not having played against the Jets he still leads the team in rushing yards with 101.
  • His father Henry was a 9th round selection of the Buccaneers in the 1979 NFL Draft.      

Brandon Bolden notes:

  • Made first appearance of the season against Tampa Bay after missing first two weeks with a knee injury.
  • Had 51 yards rushing and 49 receiving for 100 yards from scrimmage.  It is the second highest total of his career having gotten 148 yards from scrimmage at Buffalo in 2012.
  • His 46-yard run in the 3rd quarter against the Buccaneers was a career long.
  • Set career highs in receptions (5) and receiving yards (49) against Tampa Bay.

Will Svitek notes:

  • Played four seasons in Atlanta and appeared in 45 games for the Falcons. 

Stephen Gostkowski notes:

  • Led the NFL in scoring with 153 points in 2012.
  • He is the most accurate kicker by percentage in team history at 84.1% (175 0f 208).
  • He is 3rd in team history in points with 894 trailing only Gino Cappelletti (1,130) and Adam Vinatieri (1,158).
  • Is tied with Vinatieri with 8 career field goals of 50+ yards.
  • His field goal against Buffalo was only the second game winner in his career.
  • The 53-yard field goal against Tampa Bay matched his career long.

Vince Wilfork notes:

  • He is the fourth Patriots lineman to have two career INT’s.
  • Has 7 fumbles recoveries since 2010 the second most in the NFL in that span behind teammate Rob Ninkovich.

Jerod Mayo notes:

  • Had 100+ tackles for the 5th consecutive season.  With 100+ in 2013 he will tie Fred Marion for the most seasons of 100+ in Patriots history.
  • He has 673 career tackles and is in his 6th NFL season.
  • He leads the team with 34 tackles (22 solo) through Week 3.
  • Since 2010 he has the most tackles in the NFL with 480.
  • Had a team high 15 tackles at Buffalo in Week 1, 12 were unassisted.

Rob Ninkovich notes:

  • Forced five fumbles last season along with LB Brandon Spikes to tie a team record.
  • Has 10 fumble recoveries since 2010 the most in the NFL in that span.

Devin McCourty notes:

  • For the 2nd time in three seasons he led the team in INT’s with 5 in 2012.
  • He had 3 INT’s in the end zone in 2012.
  • He has 2 career 2 INT games.
  • His 104-yard KOR for a TD was the 2nd longest in team history.
  • His twin brother, Jason plays for Tennessee.

Chandler Jones notes:

  • His brother Arthur plays for the Ravens and his brother Jon is a UFC Champion.
  • Had his first 2+ sack games at Seattle in 2012 and his second in Week 2 against the Jets.
  • Leads the team in sacks with 3 and QB hits with 6.
  • He forced 3 fumbles on sacks in 2012.

Aqib Talib notes:

  • With his two INT’s against the Jets and one against the Bucs he leads the team in that category with three.
  • Would have his third consecutive game with an INT with a pick in Atlanta on Sunday night.

Kyle Arrington notes:

  • Changed his number from 24 to 25 this year so veteran S Adrian Wilson could have 24.
  • Forced two fumbles against the Bills in Week 1.  They both led to New England touchdowns. Leads team in this category.

Alfonzo Dennard notes:

  • He is a native of Rochelle GA.
  • Played high school football at Wilcox County High School, 150 miles from Atlanta.
  • Leads team in passes defensed with 4 and also has 1 INT.

There are only two players on the team who played on at least one of the Super Bowl championship teams, Brady (3) and Wilfork (1).

Roster moves this week:

  • None as of publication.

Patriots team captains for 2103:

Players with New England roots:

Players from New England based colleges and universities:

The Patriots have 6 retired numbers:

  • 20 – Gino Cappelletti
  • 40 – Mike Haynes
  • 73 – John Hannah
  • 78 – Bruce Armstrong
  • 79 – Jim Lee Hunt
  • 89 – Bob Dee

Falcons Team Notes

Atlanta FalconsHere is the Falcons roster, depth chart and injury report for the game.

2013 Falcons Schedule/Results

Atlanta’s all-time record is 313-404-6 they are 7-12 in the post season with their last post season appearance coming in 2012 when they beat Seattle in the NFC Division Game and then lost to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.

The Falcons have played in one Super Bowl and lost in their only appearance to the Denver Broncos, 34-19 (Super Bowl XXXIII).

The Falcons throwbacks will most likely not be worn in 2013 due to the same one helmet rule that is keeping the Patriots from wearing theirs.

Under Mike Smith the Falcons are 22-3 after a loss including 14 wins after a loss in a row.

Since 2008 they are 16-5 vs. the AFC including 3-2 against the AFC East.

Falcons have sold out 87 of their 89 home games since 2008 including the last 43 in a row.

Atlanta is 58-31 at the Georgia Dome since 2002 when Arthur Blank became the owner.

Since 2008 the Falcons are 43-12 in games in which they score first.

17 of their 22 starters were either drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent by the team.  13 of the 17 were drafted or signed under GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith.

They ran for a season high 146 rushing yards in week 3 at Miami.

They average 4.5 yards per carry in the first three weeks.

Atlanta is EVEN in turnover differential tied for 14th in the NFL.  They have 3 INT’s and have recovered 1 fumble while they have thrown 2 INT’s and lost 2 fumbles.

The Falcons are tied for 12th in points scored averaging 23.7 points per game and are tied for 19th in fewest points allowed with 24.7 points per game.

Falcons Staff Notes

Read what Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith had to say to the New England media about the match up.

Smith is in his 6th season with the team, he is 57-26 since taking over and is 1-4 in the playoffs for an overall record of 58-30. 

He is 0-1 vs. New England in his career.

Smith is the winningest coach in Falcons team history.  He was won two AFC South Division titles and one Wild Card berth.

Twice Smith has lead Atlanta to the top NFC seed in the playoffs.

He was the third fastest coach since the 1970 merger to win 50 games.

Owner Arthur Blank graduated from Babson College in Wellesley MA in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson was named in Blank’s honor in 1998.

General Manager Thomas Dimitroff was the Director of College Scouting in New England from 2003-2007. During his five-year tenure overseeing the Patriots area scouts, the Patriots compiled a 77-17 and won two Super Bowls (2003 and 2004). Dimitroff’s father, Tom, also played one year for the Boston Patriots in 1960.

Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter served as the offensive coordinator at Boston College from 1994-1995.

Offensive Line Coach Paul Dunn served as the offensive line coach at the University of Maine from 1990-1993.

Defensive Line Coach Ray “Sugar Bear” Hamilton played his entire nine-year NFL career as a defensive tackle in New England and is fifth on the Patriots all-time sack list with 54. Hamilton also had two coaching stints in New England as an assistant defensive line coach from 1985-1989 and Defensive Line Coach from 1997-1999.

Linebackers Coach Glenn Pires, a native of New Bedford, Mass., was a four-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Springfield College. Pires also served as the defensive line/linebackers coach at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH from 1985-1988.

Falcons Possible Starters


  • LT: Schraeder
  • LG: Blalock
  • C: Konz
  • RG: Reynolds
  • RT: Holmes
  • TE: Gonzalez
  • WR: Jones
  • WR: White
  • WR: Douglas
  • QB: Ryan
  • RB: Rodgers


  • DE: Massaquoi
  • DT: Babineaux
  • DT: Peters
  • DE: Umenyiora
  • LB: Bartu
  • LB: Dent
  • LB: Nicholas
  • LCB: Trufant
  • RCB: Samuel
  • S: Moore
  • S: Decoud

Falcons Players Notes

Matt Ryan notes:

  • He is 57-24 in his career in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs for an overall record of 58-28 in 6 seasons.
  • Ryan was a 1st round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Boston College, 3rd overall by the Falcons.
  • In his career Ryan is 0-1 vs. New England.
  • His .704 winning percentage is second among active NFL QB’s with at least 32 starts behind Tom Brady (.781).
  • Has 22 games winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime.
  • Has completed 62.1% of the third down passes he has attempted in his career.

Asante Samuel notes:

  • Was drafted by New England in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
  • Played five seasons with the Patriots and was a member of two Super Bowl Championship teams and the 16-0 team of 2007.
  • Had 22 INT’s as a Patriots including a team high 10 INT’s in 2006.
  • He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a Patriot in 2007.

Robert McClain notes:

  • Former UConn Husky is in his second season with the Falcons.
  • Is second on the team in tackles with 26 (24 solo).
  • Last week against Miami he led the team in tackles with 6.
  • He has 2 passes defensed, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and 0 INT.

Jonathan Babineaux notes:

  • Since he was drafted by Atlanta in 2005 he heads the NFL in tackles for loss by a DT with 49.5.

Tony Gonzalez notes:

  • Is the NFL’s active TD leader with 104.
  • Hold’s NFL’s longest streak with a catch in 198 consecutive games.
  • Just third NFL player to catch a pass in 17 consecutive seasons joining Jerry Rice (20) and Irving Fryar (17).
  • Second all-time in NFL history with 1253 catches.
  • Holds NFL records at the tight end position for most career receiving yards, most career receptions, most touchdown catches, most 100-yard receiving games and most 1,000-yard seasons.
  • Has caught 70+ passes in 10 consecutive seasons.
  • Has been named to 13 Pro Bowls
  • Only 8th player in NFL history with 100 career TD catches.

Roddy White notes:

  • Four time Pro Bowl selection at WR.
  • Just 5th player in NFL history to have a 90 catch, 1,200 yard season three consecutive years.
  • Has 6 consecutive seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards.
  • All-time yards receiving and catch leader in Atlanta Falcons history and is third in TD’s.
  • His 314 catches since 2008 are second in the NFL in that time span behind Denver’s Wes Welker.

Julio Jones notes:

  • Made his first Pro Bowl in 2012.
  • Is tied with Julian Edelman for league lead in catches in 2103 with 27.  He has almost double the yardage of Edelman.
  • Has 29 receptions in his career for 25 yards or more and 8 of those were TD’s.

Jacquizz Rodgers notes:

  • Leads team in rushing yards with 102 through Week 3.

Players who played for a New England based college or university:

  • QB Matt Ryan – Boston College
  • T Jeremy Trueblood – Boston College
  • CB Robert McClain – UConn

Next Week

Cincinnati BengalsUp next: Cincinnati Bengals

Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati OH

Date/Time: Sunday October 6 at 1 p.m.

TV Network: CBS

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII