The Falcons are off to their first 3-0 start since 2004, which was also the last season they improved to 4-0. There's a good chance 2012 will continue to be an undefeated season after Week 4.
Carolina does not possess a strong history of matchups against Atlanta. The Falcons lead the series with an all-time record of 22-12, and Mike Smith is 6-2 against the Panthers.
After a terrible outing against the Giants, Ron Rivera's squad doesn't look like much of a test for one of the only three undefeated teams in the NFL. Surely it won't be a complete walkover, but let's take a look at why the Falcons will improve to 4-0 after Sunday.
- The Panthers haven't won at the Dome since 2007. That one pretty much speaks for itself.
- Matt Ryan is playing lights out in 2012. Last season when Carolina almost ran away with Week 14's matchup, Ryan stepped up and took over in the second half to lead Atlanta to victory. With the way he's throwing the ball this season/Koetter's game plan for him, this one could get ugly.
- Ramses Barden caught nine passes for 138 yards last week in Charlotte. Last time I checked the Falcons had Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas. Assuming this is still the case, I'd say they shouldn't have much of an issue finding holes against that dismal secondary.
- Carolina is allowing 139.3 yards per game on the ground. Michael Turner finally found room to run in Week 3, and assuming the offensive line can continue to open up holes, we should be seeing another balanced attack.
- Sam Baker is playing well? I really don't want to jinx anything here (even though Dave might have done that already), but Baker is stepping up the plate this season and hitting home runs every game. Well, maybe not home runs. Triples or doubles. You get the picture. The offensive line in general is playing better than 2011 without a doubt, and No. 2 is staying upright for the most part.
- Mike Nolan's defense is making opposing quarterbacks look silly. Atlanta leads the league in interceptions (7) and is tied for first in fewest touchdown passes allowed (2), and that's after facing Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and the All-Pro Matt Cassel. Cam Newton is struggling/pouting in postgame press conferences, and he's not going to be any happier throwing against this secondary on Sunday.
- Matt Bryant makes alligator noises. Along with the fact that he's automatic as a kicker, I'd say that's he's a big key to success overall.