It was just a few weeks ago that the Falcons manhandled the Panthers in Carolina and made us all think they may be finishing the season strong. After losses to the Bucs and Saints, they reminded us that we can’t trust anything that happens this season. With Ron Rivera fired, and Cam Newton potentially out the door as well, god knows what the Carolina offense will look like on Sunday.
In the trenches
The Falcons had a ridiculous performance against the Panthers offensive line. They tormented Kyle Allen and forced him into 4 interceptions the last time they played. Grady Jarrett didn’t even have his best game. The game featured guys like Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley and Adrian Clayborn generating the pressure. Can they do it again? Possibly, but I’m not sure anyone is going to put money on them doing it.
The Panthers offensive line is not great. Taylor Moton at right tackle is their best player at the moment, though Trai Turner has been much better in previous years. The combination of Matt Paradis, Daryl Williams and Dennis Daley haven’t inspired a ton of confidence this year, though one has to wonder if having Kyle Allen behind center is tarnishing their performances.
I’ll be honest: I’m done giving the Falcons defense the benefit of the doubt. Even if they did thrash these guys a few weeks ago, I have no idea if they’ll show up again. Yet, the Panthers offense has been hit or miss. At best, this is a draw because of the sheer chaos.
Advantage: Flip a coin
The skill positions
The Falcons secondary has actually been playing better as of late. Desmond Trufant has looked more like himself in recent weeks and the same can be said of Ricardo Allen. Kendall Sheffield is looking more and more like a starter and even Isaiah Oliver is slowly improving. Damontae Kazee has been up and down, but we keep hoping he will return to his 2018 form. Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun have both been playing well while De’Vondre Campbell is likely playing his last few games in Atlanta. This unit has improved overall, but there is still a lot of work to do here.
Kyle Allen is not a good QB. He has some good moments, but anyone who thinks he’s a replacement for Cam Newton is out of their minds. Luckily for him, he has some weapons around him to take away the stink. Christian McCaffrey is a fantasy-monster and is legitimately a great player in the run and passing game. Greg Olsen is on the decline, but still capable of making critical catches. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel have come along and you have to think that having a bad QB may be slowing down their development. There’s some talent here, but the guy in the middle can be a major liability at times.
Honestly, if you put a decent QB behind center, the Panthers probably win this matchup pretty easily. Yet, Allen is an equalizer of sorts. The wrong kind.
This is less about believing in the Falcons defense and more about believing Kyle Allen is bad. It’s possible the mid-week coaching change lights a fire under the Carolina players and it’s also possible that the fire burns them to the ground. This game could absolutely go any direction, but I’m leaning towards the Panthers stinking it up in this matchup. Just don’t ask me to put money on it.