Cam Newton and the Panthers were supposed to be major contenders this season, not only for a playoff spot but within the NFC South division as well. None of that has happened, as the Panthers are 3-9 after losing to an inspired Kansas City Chiefs squad last week. Meanwhile, Atlanta has an 11-1 record, has clinched the division and is in the driver’s seat for the overall number one seed in the NFC.
As usual, with the Falcons, this game has all the right ingredients to be an upset. However, Atlanta has shown that it can win with any style of play, even if it is bad.
Last time these two teams met, the Falcons needed a Matt Bryant field goal to squeeze out a win at home. This time these teams will tangle in the Panthers backyard. Aside from their loss to the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta has played well on the road and typically wins by a larger margin away from the Georgia Dome.
While Carolina has no chance at .500 record or a playoff spot, they still have the opportunity to play spoiler and bring the Falcons down to earth a little bit. They proved in their first meeting they can hang with the Falcons but they will little to play for other than pride, Carolina may lack interest.
For Atlanta, this will be a great game to work on this little turnover issue they have developed over the last few games. This will also be a great chance for the Falcons to continue improving their defense against the run and to work towards establishing theirs as well. Being able to control the clock with the run is going to be key in the playoffs and what better team to work on it against than Carolina.
If Atlanta plays to its potential, they should take care of Carolina, meaning the most interesting part of the game will be Cam Newton’s interview afterwards.