If there’s one specific division rival the Falcons love seeing on the schedule, it’s the Carolina Panthers. The rivals from up I-85 have more or less been a little brother to the Birds since their inception in 1995, going 21-35 against Atlanta all-time.
These teams split the season series last year, as Carolina’s victory marked just their third success in this head to head match in the past 11 meetings and their fourth in the past 14, dating back to when Atlanta ended the Panthers’ nearly accomplished goal of becoming just the second ever 16-0 team in NFL history.
The Falcons are 2-2 head to head since head coach Arthur Smith took over, which is a far cry from his predecessor Dan Quinn’s 8-3 record against Carolina. For all of his faults as head coach, Quinn was always really good at winning this particular matchup.
Before the last matchup, the previous five games between these teams were all one possession contests that always went either way (3-3 in the past six games overall).
Atlanta will look to now restore the dominance it has historically enjoyed against Carolina, while Frank Reich’s men will look to continue the recent trend of making it difficult for the Birds.
It was the only nationally televised game for both of these teams last season when the Panthers and Falcons met for a Thursday night contest in Week 10 in what was a torrential downpour in Charlotte.
Sitting at below .500 and both still alive in the division race, these teams were already bad enough, but the pouring rain made this game borderline unwatchable. The Panthers got out to a 13-0 lead as the Falcons punted the ball on their first three possessions and watched Marcus Mariota throw an interception on their fourth before finally putting together a scoring drive capped off by a Younghoe Koo field goal right before the half.
Both teams looked very sloppy throughout the entire game, and while the Falcons did put together a couple of touchdown drives after the intermission, it never really felt like they were in it. Even though P.J. Walker only threw for 108 yards, D’Onta Foreman absolutely ravaged the overmatched Falcons’ front seven to the tune of 130 rushing yards, as Carolina ran for 218 total as a team.
The Falcons’ running backs, meanwhile combined for less than 100 rushing yards. Mariota tried to throw the ball from his back and even Koo missed multiple kicks. It was not a fun time.
Both teams went on to finish the season below .500 once again, and both ended up picking in the top 10.