The Atlanta Falcons (2-1) take on the Carolina Panthers (1-2) on Sunday to determine who will be first in the NFC South after Week 4. Stakes are high, folks, so we must turn to the numbers for insight into who might have the advantage in this high-powered match-up.
Points Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 34.7 (1st), Carolina Panthers 25.3 (12th)
Total Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 448.0 (1st), Carolina Panthers 389.3 (7th)
Passing Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 312.0 (4th), Carolina Panthers 243.3 (19th)
Passing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 7 (T-3rd), Carolina Panthers 5 (T-8th)
Rushing Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 136.0 (5th), Carolina Panthers 146.0 (3rd)
Rushing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 4 (T-6th), Carolina Panthers 2 (T-16th)
Third Down Efficiency: Atlanta Falcons 38% (20th), Carolina Panthers 48% (6th)
TO Margin: Atlanta Falcons +2 (T-9th), Carolina Panthers -2 (24th)
Points Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 30.3 (28th), Carolina Panthers 23.3 (18th)
Total Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 433.0 (30th), Carolina Panthers 273.3 (3rd)
Passing Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 313.0 (29th), Carolina Panthers 183.0 (5th)
Passing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 10 (T-31st), Carolina Panthers 4 (T-14th)
Rushing Yds Per Game: Atlanta Falcons 120.0 (22nd), Carolina Panthers 90.3 (T-10th)
Rushing TDs: Atlanta Falcons 2 (T-8th), Carolina Panthers 3 (T-18th)
Third Down Efficiency: Atlanta Falcons 44% (24th), Carolina Panthers 33% (T-6th)
Sacks: Atlanta Falcons 3 (T-28th), Carolina Panthers 6 (T-15th)
The Falcons dominate the offensive statistics and average out to be the best offense in the NFL going into Week 4. The Panthers have a slightly better run game (averaging about 10 yards per game more than Atlanta), and have been more efficient on third down. It’s also good to see that the Falcons have moved to a positive turnover margin at +2, while the Panthers have fallen to -2 after a shellacking by the Vikings.
On defense, the story is quite different. Carolina dominates the defensive statistics, though they aren’t nearly as dominant as they’ve been in years past. They are excellent at limiting yards through the air, but they’ve managed to give up a below league-average 23.3 points per game. The only stat Atlanta beats them in is Rushing TDs allowed, as the Falcons have allowed only two through three weeks.
This should be a good match-up between a high-powered offense and a stout defense. Atlanta has dominated lesser defenses, so this will be a good test to see how far the unit has really come. On the flip-side, the Panthers offense has struggled against two elite defenses, and it will be interesting to see if the Falcons can limit them in any way.
The Falcons are at home and found success against a better Panthers team in last years game at the Georgia Dome. Carolina is reeling at 1-2 and has looked vulnerable thus far, even giving up nearly 30 points to the putrid San Francisco 49ers. If the Falcons can get ahead early and manage to get some pressure on Newton (don’t hold your breath), they have a shot to take this game.
What do you think about the match-up? Do the Falcons have a chance to take down the Panthers on Sunday?