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Falcons to watch today against the Carolina Panthers

We are deep into the abyss of disappointment, but there are still players worth watching.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are now 0-4, and at this point, we don’t know where the bottom is. Week after week, this team looks outmatched, outschemed and definitely outcoached. That is increasingly frustrating considering that this team has adequate talent to be competitive weekly.

Is this season over? Playoff wise, it’s a good bet. However, it’s still early enough to make a run because, as I’ve stated before, this is a streaky team. Today, the Falcons face a division rival in the Carolina Panthers. If the Falcons are to get into the win column, there’s no better place to start than within the division. The Falcons actually swept the Panthers last season, but who will have to step up to keep the win streak going?

The entire offensive line

This Panthers defensive line will be a serious problem going forward. With the drafting of Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos and Brian Burns within the past two offseasons, this is a young and very talented group up front. If the Falcons are to have any shot of winning, they must be consistent up front in the run and passing game.

To their credit, the OL hasn’t done a terrible job at protecting Ryan up to this point, but they still have to progress and hold their own to give this team a fighting chance against one of the more promising defensive line units in the NFL. Last week against the Packers, all three starting guards allowed a sack from Za’Darius Smith, and the interior will have to hold up better to keep Ryan comfortable and effective today.

Calvin Ridley

Ridley was basically a no-show against the Green Bay Packers, even though he has been battling injuries at the beginning of the season. With Julio likely limited for this game, Ridley will need to step up in a big way in order for the Falcons to have a shot at winning this game.

The good news about this though is that Ridley has fared quite well against the Panthers, which includes a stat line of 8 catches for 143 yards and a TD against them in week 11 of 2019. If able to go and relatively healthy, Ridley is unlikely to have another game like he had on Lambeau Field, and that will help the Falcons stay in this one.

Ricardo Allen

To say Ricardo Allen has been missed by the backend of this defensive unit is a massive understatement. The secondary as a whole looked completely out of place and lost on the field against the Packers, and it led to missed assignments due to lack of communication. The QB of the defense needs to be back on the field to bring a level of leadership that’s sorely needed in the secondary. Due to the unfortunate loss of Damontae Kazee for the season, it’s expected that we’ll see Allen at free safety and at single high in situations where coverage dictates. If able to contribute, Allen will certainly provide a welcome boost to the secondary as one of the savviest players on the defense.

Although they’ve had the worst possible start to the season, the Falcons still can go 1-0 in the division if they can finally show up and defeat the Carolina Panthers in their first division game of the season. Although young and with a new Head Coach in Matt Rhule, the Panthers are not to be underestimated. If the Falcons are to pull off a win, they can’t focus on the past and really focus on what’s in front of them. I’m certainly not expecting much, but it would be nice if the Falcons showed some life with a win against the Panthers, at least to show us they can do it.