Conventional wisdom would hold that no early season games are important enough to freak out over, but I imagine many people will freak out about the outcome of Falcons-Panthers, either way.
In one corner, you have our Falcons, a team trotting one one of the NFL’s worst defenses by nearly any measure. They’ve been propped up by an offense that has made massive strides through three games of the season, albeit all against weak opposition, and a special teams unit that continues to be one of the NFL’s best. Whether that’s a recipe for success against a team widely thought to be a Super Bowl contender is anyone’s guess, but this is an important test for this new-look Falcons team. If they pass it, I imagine the same analysts who currently seem content to dismiss Atlanta’s chances will have to pay attention.
In the other corner, you have the Panthers. They’re 1-2 primarily by virtue of having played the Broncos and Vikings, two truly brutal defensive teams, and no one with any level of critical thinking skill is actually burying this team yet. That said, they’ve struggled mightily to protect Cam Newton, who hasn’t helped himself by trying to extend plays past their reasonable shelf life. They’re also trotting out a secondary that looks like a shell of the one they rolled out in 2015, and while some of those young players will grow, they legitimately don’t look as strong as they did last year. Yet, anyways.
The Falcons get to host Carolina in this one, and while I think they’ll wind up losing, they have the firepower to make this one interesting. A 3-1 record and a two game lead on the Panthers would feel pretty nice.
Here’s what you need to know for Sunday’s game.
Falcons-Panthers Week 4 rundown
Game time: Sunday, October 2, 1 p.m. EST
Location: Georgia Dome
TV Channel: ESPN
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Wes Durham and Dave Archer)
Online Stream: NFL Gamepass offers a live audio stream of the Wes Durham and Dave Archer call, and is your best option for watching the games afterwards. DirecTV also has NFL Sunday Ticket, which is worth checking out.
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman, Kristina Pink
Injury Report: Mohamed Sanu is likely to be a bit limited and De’Vondre Campbell’s status is up in the air, but otherwise the Falcons should be healthy for a crucial matchup.
Prediction: Falcons lose, 30-24.
Opposition: Cat Scratch Reader