TV Schedule: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
Weather: High 62, Low 41
Line: Carolina (-7.5)
It has been a tough season for the Atlanta Falcons through eight weeks, posting a 2-5 record and nearly having to win out in order to have a chance at the playoffs. While Matt Ryan is completing over 65 percent of his passes, he has struggled to find consistency in the pass game. He has, however, passed for 2,223 yards and 14 touchdowns with the leading receiver still being Julio Jones even though he has missed a few games with an injured foot and is out for the year. Harry Douglas has emerged in the receiving corps, catching 35 passes for 489 yards and a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez has added another 395 yards and three touchdowns on 38 catches while Roddy White has yet to do much this season. The run game ranks last in the NFL as Steven Jackson is on his way back to being full-strength.
Ron Rivera was one the hot seat not too long ago after a slow start to the season by the Carolina Panthers, but they have since reeled off four wins in their past five games. Cam Newton has been a big reason for this team’s turnaround after an 0-2 start to the season. The third-year quarterback has passed for 1,552 yards and 12 touchdowns, spreading the ball to a handful of different receivers. Newton also has 229 yards and three touchdowns rushing on the season as the team’s second-leading rusher behind DeAngelo Williams‘ 477 yards and a score. Newton’s favorite target continues to be tight end Greg Olsen who has 30 catches for 360 yards and two scores while veteran wide out Steve Smith is not too far behind with 32 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Falcons have been consistently below average this season. Ranking 22nd in every major category, the Falcons allow 26.3 points and 363.7 yards per game. On the other hand, the Panthers have been one of the best, and most consistent, defensive units in the league this season. Carolina allows an average of 13.7 points and 301.4 yards per game — good for second and third-best in the league, respectively.
PREDICTION: Falcons 27, Panthers 24