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Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Atlanta Falcons (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS)
Week 7 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, October 22, 2017 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: ATL +3/NE -3
Over/Under Total: 54

The Atlanta Falcons come into Foxborough to face the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Everyone remembers the last time these teams played, with New England scoring a legendary comeback to win the Super Bowl. Perhaps that element will pump some life into a Falcons squad that really blew it on Sunday, giving up a 17-0 lead and going scoreless in the second half to lose to the Dolphins at home, 20-17, dropping their second game in a row after a 3-0 start. The Patriots won their second game in a row, both on the road, with a 24-17 win over the Jets, where they overcame a 14-0 deficit and came back to win the game to go to 4-2. They look forward to returning home this week and should have their hands full with an irritated Falcons squad.

The Falcons started the season really well with three straight wins, two coming on the road. But to lose back-to-back home games to the Bills and Dolphins, which sandwiched a bye week, is a troubling development. We see an Atlanta defense doing what led to them blowing the Super Bowl last season, as their defense has been melting late in games. We also see turnovers on offense and overall lethargy, which has led to two consecutive 17-point outputs. Granted, teams are not immune to going on bad runs for a few games, but a loss here would put them at 3-3 and they need to snap out of it.

The Atlanta offense still has massive explosive potential, but we've seen some lulls lately. Matt Ryan has been off-target and Julio Jones is still dealing with issues and Mohamed Sanu (questionable) has missed time. The running game is still delivering, though not at as high a clip with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but complimentary aerial pieces like Taylor Gabriel and Justin Hardy have been really quiet and the offense lacks the variety and firepower of last season. Maybe it has something to do with coordinator Kyle Shanahan being gone. Or maybe they're just in a down-cycle, as they were at times last season before winning the NFC title. It may not be time to panic or even to be overly-critical, but this offense deserves a quizzical eye at this point at the very least.

The Atlanta defense can be pretty good when playing in tandem with the offense. They seem to follow suit. As the offense goes, so does the defense. When the point-output for the Falcons is low, the shortcomings on this side of the ball really resonate. Injuries haven't helped, but Vic Beasley returned Sunday and should start providing a needed pass-rush component. They didn't get to Jay Cutler once on Sunday and they were exploited by the run, with Jay Ajayi going for 130 yards. Then again, with opponents scoring between 17 and 26 points this season in all their games, the defense hasn't really been that horrible. But at their best, they're a playmaking bunch that registers timely big plays and stops to contribute to the team effort and we haven't seen that for the last two weeks.

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New England has also had some rocky passages this season. There was the second-half collapse to open the season against the Chiefs at home and another home loss to the Panthers in week four. But with consecutive wins and 4 wins in their last five games, the ship has been righted to some extent. Still, they've covered just two spreads this season and with the two losses and their last three wins being of a one-score variety, they haven't been dominant. But they do land in this home spot in better form than their opponent. They looked ragged on Sunday, as the Jets got off to a 14-0 lead. They were able to do something they haven't done much of this season and have a strong fourth quarter.

Tom Brady wasn't great on Sunday on 20-for-38 passing with 257 yards, along with two TDs and a pick. But he saved his best work for late. On the day, he twice hit Rob Gronkowski for touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had 93 yards receiving, with Danny Amendola having some production, as well. The cabaret approach in the run-game was evident, with Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis, and James White chiming in with production. A healthy Gronkowski gives this offense a real boost, as they aren't quite the same without him.

The New England defense faces some major questions moving forward. Despite spending a lot of money on the secondary, they seem to have regressed somewhat considerably. They gave up 354 yards to Josh McCown on Sunday. That was after giving up 334 to Jameis Winston the week before, with Cam Newton going for 316 the week prior to that. Before that, they gave up over 300 to Deshaun Watson, with Drew Brees and Alex Smith also going well over 300 yards each. So every QB they have played this season has thrown for over 300. They can make plays and on Sunday, Devin McCourty and Malcom Butler had picks, but they need to be better and if their performances this season are any indication, Matt Ryan could get the really big day he's been looking for the last few weeks.

This is a tough game, with different elements playing into it. It's a Super Bowl rematch from what was a heartbreaking loss for Atlanta, who has now lost two in a row and will really be pining for a win. New England is 4-2 and has been winning the last few weeks, but they are hardly restful with their station in life, knowing a lot of kinks need to be ironed out by time things start getting really important. I see both offenses shining on Sunday night, en route to an "over."

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting that the Falcons-Patriots game will go "over" 54 points. Bet the Atlanta vs. New England game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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