In week nine, things are getting very serious down in Atlanta. This season has not gone according to plan — in fact, quite the opposite. The Atlanta Falcons come into their matchup with the Carolina Panthers at only 2-5, while their divisional rival is sitting at 4-3 and looking like a potential wildcard team.
A big part of Carolina’s success lately has come from quarterback Cam Newton playing very good football. In his last three games, Newton is 58-for-75 for 667 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has also ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns. In all three of those games, to no surprise, the Panthers are 3-0.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, their defense is currently 22nd against the pass and 22nd against the run. Newton is making much better decisions both passing and tucking the ball and running. With Atlanta’s offensive woes and banged up roster, their defense has had a lot of pressure placed on them this year.
It’s been tough for Matt Ryan to get a lot going without his top two receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White — the latter being banged up all year long and the former now out for the season. Steven Jackson has also missed the majority of the season, leaving Ryan without many options in both the run and passing game.
With so many struggles on offense leading to some problems defensively, the Falcons could be in for a long day as Newton is on a phenomenal streak at the moment. With the Panthers clicking on offense and defense, Atlanta may drop to 2-6 and fall nearly out of the playoff race for good. Mathematically, anything is still possible — but we all know that it would just be a handful of false hope at this point.