Marcus Mariota – QB
If ever having a quarterback being listed as an X-Factor is considered surprising, then it would definitely be on the Atlanta Falcons offense. But it is still obvious that Mariota is a huge part of this team.
If we know one thing, it is that the Falcons want to run the ball as much as possible, and they have shown the ability to do that, but I get a feeling that the Panthers are going to put all their resources into stopping the running game, so Mariota needs to do something through the air.
It is one thing to gear up to stop it but it is another to actually stop it, as the Falcons have shown they can run against anyone.
Nevertheless, the Panthers have some guys who can run sideline-to-sideline and also have big bodies up front who will plug up the middle, like Derrick Brown, so Arthur Smith may need to dial up a passing game and some deep shots.
I personally, just have this gut feeling that this game will come down to whether or not Mariota can make plays through the air and finish drives with touchdowns — something that Tom Brady couldn’t do against the same team.
Maybe we will finally get to see Kyle Pitts and Drake London make plays in the passing game.