4 Patriots who need to step up vs. the Falcons in Week 11

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The New England Patriots are soaring high as they enter Thursday’s contest with the Atlanta Falcons. Riding a four-game winning streak, they look to continue their good fortune after jockeying with AFC opponents in the playoff race.

New England’s win on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns showcased solid performances by many players. Both the running and passing games were firing on all cylinders. Now, the Patriots will look to put together a solid performance against an Atlanta Falcons team that has struggled at times this season.

We take a look at four Patriots who need to step up against the Atlanta Falcons.

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WR Kendrick Bourne

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Kendrick Bourne is on this list not because he didn’t perform Sunday. In fact, he was a big reason why the Patriots defeated the Browns. He just needs to focus on continuing to be a vital part of the offense.

Bourne caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown as well as rushing the ball three times for 43 yards. He had his fingerprints all over Sunday’s game, and that needs to continue against the Falcons. The Falcons are tied with the Tennessee Titans, as they have allowed 18 passing touchdowns on the year. this could be another opportunity for Bourne to play at a high level once again.

It’s not about him needing to prove himself. Rather, it’s going to be about him showing continuity. If he can have another game on Thursday like he did this past Sunday, the Falcons secondary will have a tough time guarding him.

Whoever is guarding Kyle Pitts

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Whoever is guarding Kyle Pitts will have to step up on Thursday. The Falcons tight end has proven to be one of the most electrifying rookies in the 2021 draft class. Furthermore, he has given the Atlanta Falcons another weapon.

On the year, Pitts has recorded 40 catches for 606 yards and a touchdown. He is coming off a four-catch, 60-yard effort against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He has recorded 100 receiving yards in two games this season.

Because the Patriots play a lot of zone defense, there may not be one set matchup for Pitts. We could see a combination of defensive players. Whoever will be guarding him on that particular series will have their hands full. Measuring in at six-foot-six, 245 pounds, he is not easy to tackle or bring down.

EDGE Matthew Judon

Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Judon will be key for the Patriots on Thursday. Judon will need to get to quarterback Matt Ryan to avoid another big game from Patterson. Giving Matt Ryan time in the pocket is not ideal.

Judon has 9.5 sacks on the season. He had a tackle and a half a sack on Sunday against the Browns. He has now recorded at least half a sack in three straight games.

New England will need him to provide pressure. The Atlanta Falcons have completed 66.2% of their passes. For his part, Patterson has 77 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. This Atlanta Falcons offense can be explosive when given time. As a result, the Patriots will need their pass rushers to get to quarterback Matt Ryan quickly. Failure to do so could be problematic for the Patriots.

QB Mac Jones

Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

I know I put him on the top of this list every single week, but as Mac Jones goes so does the offense.

Jones is coming off a game on Sunday that saw him go 19-of-23 on the afternoon. Throwing for 198 yards and three touchdowns he was efficient with his passes. Recording an 82.6 completion percentage, he made smart decisions on Sunday against Cleveland. He took what the defense gave him and made the most of it , as he recorded the first three-touchdown game of his career.

Week by week he seems to be progressing. Thursday, he will take on an Atlanta Falcons defense that allows 246.2 passing yards per game. They allowed 317 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and they are coming off a performance in which they did not play their best.

Jones will look to continue to build as he faces the first short week of his career. Good command of the offense and quick decision-making will be important.

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