With nine wins on the season, the Falcons already have their winning season. Now they just need to clinch a postseason berth, and they can do so with a win Saturday against the same Panthers team that just merrily dismantled Washington on national television. Will Atlanta get it done?
This is a better Carolina team than the Falcons faced the last time out, both because their young cornerbacks have improved and because they’ll have the potent Jonathan Stewart in the backfield. Atlanta’s also on the road for this one, which furthers our reasons to worry that the outcome might be different.
I’m not going to overthink things, though. Julio Jones should be good to go for this one, and he ate the Panthers alive more or less by himself last time out. The offense is still humming, the defense has made teeny tiny little strides, and Atlanta won’t lack for motivation with the playoffs so close. I think it’ll be closer than we’d like—as are most NFC South games—but that it ultimately will not matter and Atlanta will walk away with a W.
I’ll take the Falcons to win this one 34-27. The Panthers will fight like hell, I truly believe, but this Atlanta team is good enough to win and has so much incentive to do so with a playoff berth within their grasp. What say you?