Beating the Carolina Panthers is important. We all know what a difference a division win makes, and it would be another confidence-builder for a team that still needs them coming after they fell to .500 in October. Last week’s win was an excellent start, especially in the rain, but the Panthers won’t be pushovers.
So how does Atlanta triumph in this game?
Defensively, it will be critical to pressure Cam Newton and keep him from running effectively. It’s not that he can’t sit in the pocket and throw—he absolutely can—but that impacting his timing and forcing him to throw early and often to a motley crew of receivers favors a quality Falcons secondary. If the run defense is up to the task of containing an anemic ground assault, the Panthers are going to struggle to score 20 points in this one. I firmly believe that.
Offensively, you have to keep Matt Ryan clean and establish the run, and the offense just has to execute at a high enough level to avoid the kinds of mistakes that doom teams against Carolina. Easier said than done, especially given recent struggles, but it’s a clean enough blueprint.
All I’m really talking about is playing a good, clean game. The Panthers are a talented but flawed team that can really scuffle to score points, and thus the team’s best effort should be enough to get the win. Anything less than that, though, and this will likely be a close game, one Atlanta may not win.
Let us know you’d take on the Panthers, and then use this as your open thread for the night.