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Patriots dealing with injuries to defensive tackles heading into Super Bowl LI

It’s not going to sink this team, but it’s something to watch against the Falcons’ potent ground attack.

Divisional Round - Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Patriots are going to be a tough team to beat for these Atlanta Falcons, no matter how much we’d like to see an epic rout. Given that, you’ll take any advantage you can, and one such advantage appears on the injury report.

With Alex Mack dealing with injury, the Patriots potentially having two limited defensive tackles is a rather huge deal, even if all three players are almost certainly going to suit up for the f***ing Super Bowl. One of the Patriots’ best hopes will be bringing pressure in the middle of that line and stopping the run cold, and if Valentine and Branch are even a little banged up, it doesn’t hurt the Falcons one bit. Particularly because it’s going to be critically important to get Devonta Freeman going early if the Falcons want to stay balanced and control the clock. I mean, obviously they’re going to want to.

Otherwise, this is a healthy Patriots team, and one that’s going give the Falcons trouble. If they gain a little edge because the Pats are a little weak in the middle of that defensive line, you won’t hear me complain.