Take your pick: Patriots or Falcons O?
September, 24, 2009
By Tim Graham | ESPN.com
|Who would you rather have on offense -- Atlanta's Matt Ryan and his array of weapons or Tom Brady & Co. in New England?|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
A Sunday afternoon showdown will feature an offense that was one of the NFL's greatest in 2007 and another that might be the most balanced this year.
The New England Patriots will host the Atlanta Falcons in Gillette Stadium.
Which offense would you rather have?
The Patriots essentially have the same offense that shredded the record book two years ago. The quarterback, running backs, top two receivers, offensive line and tight end are the same -- and they've added Fred Taylor and tight end Chris Baker -- but they sure haven't recaptured the aura through the first couple of games.
The Falcons, meanwhile, are a formidable team on the rise, with weapons at every position.
Quarterback: Tom Brady, despite his shaky play so far, still is one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.
Falcons sophomore Matt Ryan represents the future.
Running back: The Patriots have a committee of Laurence Maroney, Taylor, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
The Falcons aren't as deep, but All-Pro Michael Turner is their feature back. Jerious Norwood is a respectable backup.
Receiver: The Patriots' depth chart looks loaded. Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway and Julian Edelman. But Welker has been banged up, and Galloway has been ineffective.
Atlanta has Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Marty Booker. Not nearly as inspiring a unit, but White is a game-breaker.
Tight end: Benjamin Watson has been sensational some games, but invisible in others during his time in New England. He's also frequently hurt. Baker started in Week 2, but he hasn't shown much after a promising camp.
Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez has integrated himself nicely in Atlanta's offense. He leads the club with 12 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
Offensive line: The Patriots have three linemen (left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins, center Dan Koppen) who've made a Pro Bowl. Right guard Stephen Neal is a capable right guard, while right tackle Nick Kaczur could eventually lose his gig to rookie Sebastian Vollmer.
Atlanta's crew is more anonymous (nobody made the Pro Bowl last year), but it did pave the way for Turner to rush for 1,699 yards last year and reduced the number of sacks allowed from 47 two years ago to 17.