Again, keeping in mind that tonight’s contest is a pre-season game and there’s not a whole lot that you can extrapolate from what happens on the field, here’s what I’ll be interested to look for when the Pats face off against the Falcons…
#1 – Will Wes Welker Play?
Wes drew some headlines by making the trip down to Atlanta. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not he’ll take the field. Personally, I think it’s a toss-up as he had plenty of reason to travel even if he didn’t play, as the Patriots held two joint-practices with the Falcons this week. The fact that Welker could potentially be on the field in August after blowing out his ACL in January is a comeback of Bruschi-esque proportions.
#2 – Can the D-line keep it up?
The defensive line looked strong against New Orleans without Ty Warren. They were able to pressure Brees and pick up an early sack on him. Another strong performance from the D-line would go a long way towards squelching the widespread fears of how this team will handle the loss of their top DE.
#3 – Same goes for the secondary…
The Patriots will once again face an explosive offense in Atlanta. The secondary held up fairly well against the Saints and if they can contain the Falcons, it could bode well for this unit that many considered to be the team’s weak point last season.
#4 – Brandon Spikes
The rookie had a monster game against New Orleans, leading the team in tackles. Will we see more of the same in his second NFL game?
#5 – Brady’s finger
I’m personally not losing any sleep over the reports that Brady had his finger taped after hiting his hand against a helmet in the Saints game. He says he’s fine, and I tend to believe him on this one. Still, if his throws look at all shaky…
#6 – Julian Edelman / Wes Welker
Edelman stole the show against the Saints. I think he’ll be due for another big game tonight. More interesting, though, will be to see how the Patriots handle Julian if Welker does indeed play. Will they use them on the field together? Will they test out any wrinkles in the offense? My guess is that Belichick will save any real fireworks for the regular season, but a preview would certainly be interesting to watch.