4. Slash and Dash
Yes, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind. A wizard of schematics. However, Belichick won’t be on the field on Sunday.
This may also be a spot where the absence of former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins will show it’s presence. Why? Simply because the Falcons have two running backs that can easily line up in the slot or the boundary and create unfavorable mismatches with the current linebacker corps.
In backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, the Falcons have a one-two punch that is arguably the best running back tandem in the league. The two have combined for 85 catches and five touchdowns in the regular season.
In the Falcons two postseason games, the two have combined for 14 catches, 179 yards and two touchdowns. Simply put, productive.
Earlier this season, New England allowed seven catches for 87 yards to Seattle running back C.J. Procise. They allowed eight catches and a touchdown to Baltimore’s Kenneth Dixon. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell racked up 10 catches against them in the regular season also.
Since the Patriots play a considerable amount of man defense, the Falcons offense will have opportunities for Coleman and Freeman lined up one-on-one.
I’ll take my chances and safely bet on the duo in one-on-one matchups with Patriots linebackers Donta’ Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, and Shea McClellan.