A look at the Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers matchup

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24: Tevin Coleman (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24: Tevin Coleman (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) head to Charlotte this week to take on the Carolina Panthers (5-3).

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of a tough 25-20 win against the New York Jets which ended a three-game losing streak.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan posted solid numbers against the Jets. He completed18 out of 29 passes for 254-yards and two touchdowns.

He did all of this while dealing with dreadful weather conditions.

The Carolina Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday with a score of 17-3, snapping a two-game losing streak.

Panthers’ QB Cam Newton has not been playing his best football as of late, but managed to do just enough completing 18 out of 32 passes for 154-yards and one touchdown.

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Carolina’s win against Tampa was credited to their defense for stopping the run.

The Falcons swept the Panthers last season (2016) with the scores of 48-33 and 33-16.

The first game was highlighted by Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones torching the Panthers’ defense for 300 yards on 12 receptions.

If history repeats itself, the Falcons’ offense should have a big day in Carolina this week.

The 2017 Falcons offense has not met the expectations of 2016 offense, but the 2017 version still consists of the 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan, arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones, and a top-10 running back in Falcons Devonta Freeman.

Despite Freeman’s injury sustained against the Jets on Sunday, he should be good to play against the Panthers.

Head coach Dan Quinn said that Freeman would be limited in practice this week but would not miss any time.

If there are any concerns about Freeman, Falcons running back Tevin Coleman is still capable of making big plays in the backfield.

Carolina should have a challenge with the Falcons receivers on Sunday.

Last year, Carolina decided not to resign corner back Josh Norman, and Carolina paid the price as they gave up 81 combined points vs Atlanta in 2016.

The Panthers’ defense was exceptional in their win vs the Buccaneers but I don’t see them maintaining the same success against the Falcons offense.

The Falcons rely heavily on spreading the ball around. In Sunday’s win against the Jets, Ryan was able to connect with seven different targets. This type of distribution will be difficult for Carolina to combat.

Atlanta’s defense played well against the Jets and they will look to build on their momentum against Newton.

Newton has been prone to turnovers this season and has thrown eleven interceptions.

Six turnovers have come in the last three games alone.

While Carolina stands at 5-3 and second in the NFC South, Newton is far from the MVP he was in 2015.

Expectations were high this year for Panthers rookie running Christian McCaffrey. Thus far on the season he has 378-yards and two touchdowns.

However, in the past three games, he has dismal 41 combined rushing/receiving yards.

And McCaffrey’s job will be become more difficult this Sunday, as he will face run-stoppers in Falcons defensive tackles Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe. Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is also a threat to stop the run.

Despite coming into a hostile environment at Bank of America Stadium, I predict the Falcons will keep their feet on the gas pedal and will shift momentum in the NFC South with a key victory against the Panthers.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: 3 players who saw their stock rise in Week 8

Final: Falcons 28 Panthers 20