Atlanta Falcons Greatest Divisional Opponent Appears To Be

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 01: Matt Ryan /

Atlanta Falcons currently sit second in the NFC South. Which team has shown themselves to be the Falcons biggest competitor to win the division?

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off their first loss of the season. The last time the Falcons opened a season with multiple wins and zero losses (2015), they eventually went on a six game losing streak.

This Sunday, the 3-1 Falcons will face the Miami Dolphins and attempt to keep up with their division rivals, Carolina Panthers, who currently sit at 4-1.

The Panthers have managed to grab two impressive road wins and another in Charlotte against the Buffalo Bills, the same Bills who handed the Falcons their first lost of the season.

Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton, had a MVP caliber game against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, accounting for 355 passing yards and three touchdowns.

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Whether I want to admit it or not, the Carolina Panthers look like they are the Falcons greatest challenger to win the NFC South.

I am certainly not discounting the New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, barring injury, the Panthers and Falcons appear to be the early favorites to win the division.

Will the Falcons defend their NFC South title and land on top of the division at the end of the year?

Since the division was created prior to the 2002 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons have not won a division title two years in a row. In fact, the only team to win the NFC South division two or more years in a row is the Panthers, who won the division title from 2013-2015.

But this is 2017, not 2013-2015. Likewise this is not 2016, when the Falcons won the divisional title and went on to win the NFC Championship.

This is a new season, and it is probably best that Falcons fans realize that although many of the Falcons starters returned from last year, the landscape of the NFC South has changed since 2016.

Last year, the Buccaneers finished second in the division with a  9-7 record. I can assure you, the team that finishes second in the NFC South this year will have a better record than 9-7.

The Falcons will face the Panthers in Charlotte on November 5th.

But before that game, it is important the Falcons get back on track after their loss to the Bills. The Falcons will face the Dolphins, New England Patriots, and the New York Jets before traveling to North Carolina.

The Panthers remaining schedule for the month of October has them facing the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, and Buccaneers. In all likelihood, at the rate Carolina is going, they will win these next three games.

Therefore, Atlanta will need to win at least two of their next three games in order to stay on pace with the Panthers.

Then, in a head-to-head battle between the Falcons and Panthers on November 5th, we can get a better idea of which team will most likely be standing on the top of the NFC South at the end of the season.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: 2018 NFL Draft Notebook Vol. 1

Do you think the Falcons will have a better record than the Panthers this year?