Week 3 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
New England matched up against Tampa Bay for a week of practice and played them already this preseason. That said, the Buccaneers are not resting running back Doug Martin after the first few series and this game will be a test for the Patriots defense. The investment in cornerback (and former Buccaneer) Aqib Talib will be key. The other factor for New England? A healthy Darrelle Revis may be on the field to continue his career of frustrating quarterback Tom Brady. Expect a close game.
Prediction: Patriots 27 – Tampa Bay 24. Record: 3-0
Week 4 at Atlanta Falcons:
The Atlanta Falcons are a true Super Bowl contender in the NFC. The Patriots have a tough road matchup heading inside a dome to play a strong defense and explosive offense. With the signing of running back Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner, the Falcons will challenge the Patriots defense with wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, tight end Tony Gonzalez, and quarterback Matt Ryan. In a neutral site or in Foxboro, MA, the Patriots may win a shootout. On the road in a primetime Sunday night matchup, this game sticks out like a potential repeat of preseason game three against Detroit. At least New England Patriots fans should be able to get some sleep before work on Monday morning and not have to stay up until the end of the game as this game is Falcons early and often on the scoreboard.
Prediction: Patriots 24 – Atlanta 41 Record: 3-1.