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Falcons vs. Panthers: What you need to know to watch Week 16

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The Falcons are not favored and they have little to play for except beating the Panthers, which, well, good enough.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two games left, both against NFC South rivals. The first against a Panthers team that has been tripping over its own feet for what seems like centuries but probably has been less than half a season, and the last one the opportunity to deliver a coup de grace to Dirk Koetter’s time in Tampa Bay. Of course, wins against both would damage Atlanta’s draft stock mightily, and so opinions on the wisdom of doing so will continue to be sharply divided.

Carolina is, for better or for worse, eminently beatable. Their defense is good enough to give the Falcons absolute fits, but it’s worth noting that the Saints have been anemic on offense for three straight weeks now. On the other side of the ball, the Panthers are doomed by a finally regressing offensive line and whatever is going on with a clearly injured Cam Newton, and thus their upside is not all that high. The Falcons shouldn’t be brimming with confidence after stomping a lousy Cardinals team, but compared to Carolina, they probably are.

If you’re tuning in out of curiosity, to will the Falcons to a draft-positioning-saving loss, or to savor a win over a divisional rival, here’s what you’ll need to know.

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers, Week 16

When: Sunday, December 23, 1 p.m. EST

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Channel: FOX

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Key Questions: Will the Panthers even bother to play Cam Newton with their playoff hopes all but extinguished and Newton clearly flailing? Will the Falcons go right back to being terrible on offense against a quality defense? Will this game be watchable?

Opponent Site: Cat Scratch Reader