Week 1 Analysis via PFF

Carolina Offense (11 personnel w/ 3WR's) vs. Atlanta Defense (Nickle Package)

- First thing that jumps off the page about Carolina is their all around talent on both sides of the ball. They are currently built as a very high floor, low ceiling team.

- I am very happy to say that our front 4 in a Nickle package (Campbell, Onyemata, Jarrett, AK) seem to have the advantage against their o-line. I would give it a 60/40 odds split for our chances to win each snap. I would point to the duo of Jarrett and Onyemata having the largest advantage over Carolinas duo of Bradley Bozeman and rookie Chandler Zavala. I do expect interior penetration by our defensive line to be a pain in the Panthers butts all game long.

- The bad news is with the middle of the field for Atlanta. With the addition of Ellis we have hope, but I do suspect Ellis will be testing their OT Ikem Ekwonu more than he will be covering TE's and RB's. Former Falcon Hayden Hurst will most likely be covered by Troy Andersen, and on paper that is a lopsided affair. Hurst might be a thorn in the side and the saving grace for the rookie QB in his first start. Hopefully the work the coaching staff has done with Andersen in the offseason pays off by game 1.

- On the outside there seems to be some very competitive matchups with Terrell covering Jonathan Mingo and Okudah covering Chark. The worrisome matchup is Okudah vs. Chark, considering Chark is a very well rounded receiver on paper and Okudah has had some recent struggles in a real game scenario. In the slot it is Thielen vs. Alford, and that should be a very even match where I see it as a 50/50 split of who wins each snap. All-in-all I have a feeling that the rookie will connect on at least one deep shot to one of these receivers.

- Deep secondary looks to be Atlantas ace in the hole. On paper, Bates and Grant combine to be something that their rookie QB will struggle to read. Grant is capable to moving up and stopping the RB Miles Sanders at the line, and Bates seems capable of reading the rookie like a book on pass plays. I expect this duo on the backend to dominate the Panthers, in both run and pass. It might be best to let Grant cover Hurst and then have Andersen cover Sanders. That matchup seems to be much more even, and give us more flexibility with whether we rush or cover.

Atlanta Offense (12 personnel w/ 2 WR's) vs. Carolina Defense (Base 3-4)

- This looks to be an interestingly close matchup all around. On paper the Carolina defense is going to be good. I could easily see Carolina ending the season in the top-15 of the league defensively, maybe even top-10.

- Our o-line thankfully looks to have the advantage on their d-line in all but one major place. Rookie Bergeron will be lining up against one of the best true DT's in the game in Derrick Brown. Brown will be a real test of where Bergeron is at in game 1. Going off of PFF, Ridder should go ahead and count on drifting out to the right and away from Brown as a habit. Luckily, every other positional matchup looks to favor Atlanta. Giving Bergeron some help with Brown should be a priority for Arthur Smith and company.

- The duo of Shaq Thompson and Frankie Luvu seem to be a formidable duo for Pitts and Smith to attack. Both of their LB's are solid all around players, and will most likely do a decent job of limiting any damage that Pitts will inevitably cause. On paper, this match is a near draw, even though I think Pitts stats from last year are misleading, and we actually have the advantage here.

- On the perimeter the duo of Jaycee Horn and Dante Jackson do not appear prepared to meet Hollins and London. If they do put Jackson on London, I expect Jackson to have a very long day. London is a matchup nightmare for Jackson. Horn has the advantage on Hollins, but all Hollins really has to do is show up and run routes to damage their secondary. I see this as leaning squarely into Atlanta's direction, but the matchup of Horn and Hollins might be something for Arthur Smith to scheme around.

- In the backend the duo of Le'Veon Bell and Xavier Woods is a solid but not spectacular group. Neither is a bad player and should provide quality coverage and run support. The problem for them is that Robinson looks to actually be the real deal and Allegeir has already shown capable of running at a high level. If I were Carolina I would use Woods to give Jackson some help over the top and let Bell drop into the box to try and put an extra hat on either Pitts or Robinson. There is enough talent for Carolina to work some magic here, but they should have their hands full with this Atlanta offense.

Takeaways and Predictions

- I expect this to be a slug fest. Both sides have talent on both sides of the ball. Both sides should have put their team in position to win if they play up to their potential.

- Considering this is game 1, I'm giving the game to the least penalized team. Last year that would mean Atlanta has the advantage, but in the preseason this team has shown to be prone to committing numerous penalties. I'm leaning Atlanta but there is no telling considering its the first game.

- I expect a rookie QB to struggle with pressure and blanket coverage. I also expect the ground game to be good enough, that despite Carolina's quality defense, they simply can't stop our o-line from dominating the trenches and creating enough big holes for our run game to flourish for the consistent 4 yard gain.

- Final score prediction of 21-17, with Atlanta starting the year out with a W. I do feel like Carolina walks away from the game holding their head high though.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>