Game 4 preview: Patriots at Falcons

ATLANTA – The Patriots are looking to start the season with their fourth straight win and take their fourth straight game against the Atlanta Falcons, but they’ll have to do so without any additional firepower Sunday night.

New England downgraded tight end Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin) to out for Sunday night’s game after both were listed as questionable on Friday’s final practice report. Neither made the trip to Atlanta.

Amendola will miss his third straight game since tearing a groin muscle in Week 1, while Gronkowski has been out since Jan. 13 when he broke his forearm against the Houston Texans. Gronkowski has undergone four surgeries since then, three on his forearm and one on his back to fix a herniated disk.


The Patriots have made do without both. They’re coming off a 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, finding more offensive rhythm as the season has progressed.

They’ll have a tough challenge in the Falcons, led by quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons are tied for 12th in offense (23.7 points per game) in the league while putting up 379.0 yards per game. Ryan has been prolific through three games, throwing for 909 yards and six touchdowns while sporting a 100.4 quarterback rating.

Falcons running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) is out for Sunday’s game while four of his teammates are listed as questionable: offensive tackle Sam Baker (foot/knee), wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), wide receiver Roddy White (ankle), and former Patriot cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh).

The Patriots are tied with the Falcons in their all-time series, 6-6. But New England has captured the last three games, including a 26-10 win over the Falcons in 2009.

If the Patriots win, Bill Belichick (208-109) will tie Chuck Knoll (209-156-1) for fifth place all-time for most wins by an NFL coach and Tom Brady will become the fifth quarterback to reach the 140-win milestone behind Brett Favre (186), Peyton Manning (157), John Elway (148), and Dan Marino (147).


Here are the details for today’s game:

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m.

Records: Patriots 3-0; Falcons 1-2.

TV/Radio: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci, Scott Zolak) and Westwood One Sports (Kevin Kugler, James Lofton).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Julian Edelman, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Zach Sudfeld, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Michael Hoomanawanui.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Tommy Kelly, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont’a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Brandon Spikes, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Falcons offense: WR Julio Jones, LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Peter Konz, RG Garrett Reynolds, RT Lamar Holmes, TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Roddy White, QB Matt Ryan, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, FB Patrick DiMarco.

Falcons defense: RE Osi Umenyiora, DT Corey Peters, DT Jonathan Babineaux, LE Jonathan Massaquoi, OLB Joplo Bartu, MLB Akeem Dent, OLB Stephen Nicholas, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Asante Samuel, S William Moore, S Thomas DeCoud.

Read this, watch that

– Tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola will not play against the Falcons.

– The Patriots are hoping to contain Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

– The Globe’s Jim McBride provides his keys for the Patriots’ win against the Falcons. (Subscription.)

– Follow today’s game and comment on the action in our live blog. Updates start around 7 p.m.


Zuri Berry can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.

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