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Patriots-Falcons Pregame Notebook: Roster Notes, Game Prediction and More

Can the Patriots continue their winning ways in Atlanta on Thursday night?

For the second time in five days, the New England Patriots will take the field for their Week Eleven matchup with the Atlanta Falcons at 8:20pm ET on Thursday, November 18 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. The Pats are attempting to win their fifth-straight, following a 45-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week Ten on Sunday.

The Patriots are entering this week with a streak of six straight wins against the Falcons, including a come-from-behind 34-28 overtime win in Super Bowl LI. It will be the first regular season meeting since a 23-7 New England win at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 22, 2017 in a Sunday Night game.



This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen via your local affiliate. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink will work from the sidelines.


The game will stream on Amazon with Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm calling the game.


98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

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Patriots Roster Notes:

Running back Damien Harris and return specialist Gunner Olszewski have been removed from the report, indicating that they have cleared concussion protocol. Barring any setbacks or lingering effects from their respective head injuries, both players are expected to play on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Patriots placed linebacker Josh Uche on injured reserve, while activating edge rusher Chase Winovich. While Uche will be forced to miss at least three games, Winovich may possibly suit up for Thursday’s matchup with the Falcons.

Falcons Roster Notes :

After having declared him as out for Thursday’s matchup, the Falcons placed tight end Hayden Hurst on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. As a result, tight end Parker Hesse has been elevated from the practice squad.

Patriot Maven Game Prediction:

Defensive Essential: Pitts is the Priority

Though he may be a rookie, he is fierce. Kyle Pitts is a true game changer at the tight end position. The Florida product has compiled 606 receiving yards on 40 catches, with one touchdown. The 21-year-old is a multi-faceted tight end. However, he is most effective when flexed out wide. In this case, Bill Belichick and the Patriots defensive brain trust is likely to task top corner J.C. Jackson with covering the young, prolific tight end. In the Falcons Week Ten matchup, the Dallas Cowboys covered Pitts for much of the game, in hopes of limiting his effectiveness. As such, Jackson is the Patriots’ best option at trying to neutralize Pitts when he aligns wide, and especially on third down. Jackson enters this game ranked third among all cornerbacks in the NFL with a Pro Football Focus grade of 84.4. He also ranks first in interceptions (four), second in pass breakups (six), and third in passer rating allowed (42.3) while in man coverage. Should he have success against Pitts in man coverage, the Patriots coverage defenders in the secondary can fill the open field to take away the passing lanes for Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.

Offensive Essential: Keep on Running

Despite the recent top-notice performance of Pats quarterback Mac Jones, the key to the Patriots’ success on Thursday will be running the football. New England will be best served by attempting to pound the ball early and often. This will help them to control the clock, the tempo, and keep the Falcons’ defense on the field as much as possible. Atlanta struggles to stop the run, allowing 122.1 yards per game, which ranks 21st in the league. With the return of Damien Harris, the Pats running backs’ corps will be back to full strength. Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, Brandon Bolden and possibly J.J. Taylor will be running behind a much-improved offensive line. Their success on the ground will help to open play-action, allowing Jones to attack the weak spots in the Falcons’ pass defense.

Final Analysis:

While wear-and-tear from a quick turn-around is always a concern, the Pats should avoid the trap game. Despite Ryan’s prowess at quarterback , he is simply missing too many healthy options to be as effective as he is capable on Thursday. The Pats will still be shaking off some lingering fatigue, but will do enough on both sides of the ball to get the job done in Week Eleven.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Patriots 28, Falcons 21