#1. Exploit the Mismatches
The overall play for Carolina’s defense has been better in recent weeks, but there’s plenty of mismatches for Atlanta to exploit Saturday.
The first contest was mainly the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones show. Taylor Gabriel wasn’t considered much of an impact player or threat back then. But over the past several weeks, Gabriel’s presence has established a dangerous deep threat. Protecting against the deep threat is something the Panthers have shown little ability to control this season.
Atlanta looking to strike with the long ball early will be well worth watching.
With the Panthers’ third ranked run defense, the Falcons will have to resort to “extending” the run game by incorporating screens and dump-offs. Getting Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman involved early is absolutely a must for Atlanta.
Ultimately, all eyes will be on taking away Julio Jones, but the Falcons have an incredible amount of weapons that the Panthers will have to account for in all four quarters. Accordingly, Shanahan has made a habit of attacking the weakness of a defense this season. No doubt, that approach needs to manifest itself in Charlotte.