Atlanta’s getting a heavy dose of the Panthers in the middle of their schedule, as they’ll face Carolina in both Weeks 8 and 10. For this matchup, it’ll be Thursday Night Football, pitting Atlanta against their rivals on short rest after they play the Chargers. For the Panthers it’ll be potentially even worse, as they’re having to come home from playing the Bengals on short rest.
While most observers seem to think the Falcons will be the worst team in the NFC South, I think Carolina has a strong chance of finishing below them. Atlanta beating them twice in one season would certainly get them closer, but can they make it two in a row against the Panthers after we overwhelmingly predicted a win the first time out?
Spoiler: Yeah, we think so. Give us your prediction once you check out ours.
Falcons 24 - Panthers 17
Are the Falcons good enough to beat any team in the NFL twice? I don’t know the answer to that just yet, but if there’s any team they could beat twice, it’s the Panthers.
While Carolina has talent—and in some places, significantly more than the Falcons—putting that all together has proven a challenge and I don’t know that Matt Rhule is the right coach for this team. By this point in the season, I expect Carolina to be dwelling in the basement either right above or right below the Falcons, and a loss here should put them down bad. I expect the Falcons to deliver it.
I’ve got the Falcons at 4-6 at this point in the season. -Dave Choate
Falcons 9 - Panthers 13
The wheels look destined to fall off from each team this season. But precisely when is really the biggest question. For the Panthers, I anticipate their new quarterback, Baker Mayfield, to ultimately falter pretty quickly due to the new scheme and players (hence, why banking on a new quarterback to solve the team’s problem immediately feels misguided). By Week 10, Rhule has likely been booted with a coordinator stepping into his spot. The Panthers are probably slightly more competent under not-Rhule, as we commonly see after mid-season fires. For the Falcons, late in the season is when injuries start attacking the troublesome depth, and Marcus Mariota is either injured, exposed (thanks to ample game film), or benched. I don’t see the Falcons built to play competitively down the stretch, even with a supremely winnable game such as against Carolina. Plus, I did have the Falcons with an earlier win against Carolina. Going 2-0 against this divisional foe doesn’t sound like it will happen. — Matt Chambers
Falcons 16 - Panthers 13
If things don’t go well with Marcus Mariota, or even if they’re just meh, this is where I see Desmond Ridder potentially making his first start. We all know by now how tough the schedule looks at this point, and the Panthers are probably their weakest opponent up to this point (they play in Week 8 also.) But by this point of the season, I think the team is around 3-6 and that might be a best-case scenario. It’s time to see what you have in Ridder for the final portion of the season considering they only used a third on him, and if they like what they see, you now have a franchise quarterback and gave up very little. If they don’t like what they see, you can look to the quarterback spot during the 2023 NFL Draft. Falcons win this one though, it could possibly be their first or second win of the season. Hopefully that number is higher though. – Evan Birchfield