#3. Set The Tone Early
Above all, this is not an ordinary game between two division rivals.
There’s a lot on the line in this particular contest vs the Carolina Panthers. The Atlanta Falcons have every reason to be the aggressor as the team with more to play for in 2016.
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The Atlanta Falcons of the past often folded under these circumstances…but we’re told this team is different. If this is a different team and they do seize the opportunity, then the tone will be set early. It should probably be set as early as it was the first time Atlanta met Carolina back in Week 3.
During the 2015 season, the physical Panthers were usually the team to punch first and see opponents dazed and confused. This time around, it’s the Falcons’ turn to put the Panthers against the ropes from the opening bell.
From Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling to the young and aggressive defensive approach, the Falcons have to strike first. Solid coverage on special teams will also have to be emphasized as Atlanta strikes early and often.