Okay, in the past two games, I picked the Falcons to win despite the “logic” that indicated they would lose. That’s going to change this week.
FALCONS OFFENSE VS. PANTHERS DEFENSE
Advantage: Panthers (both)
The Panthers have given quite a bit of points considering their defense is currently ranked 6th in total defense. But considering the offensive struggles the Falcons have had putting points on the board, those issues won’t be as big this week. The Falcons really need to get out of a funk and start scoring.
FALCONS DEFENSE VS. PANTHERS OFFENSE
Advantage: Falcons (run), Panthers (pass)
Steve Smith is off to another brilliant start, and it will of course be DeAngelo Hall’s task to try and slow him down this week. A tall order. Hall is certainly capable, but it’s time he start really proving to the world he’s an elite cornerback, which will mean keeping Smith from becoming a factor in this game. Luckily for the Falcons, aside from Smith, the Panthers offense doesn’t represent any significant threat. Their running game is improving, but it’s not exactly the kind that should be running wild against the Falcons like they did late last season. If the Falcons can put pressure on Delhomme like they did in Week 1 last year, they can potentially take Smith out of the game. And unfortunately for the Panthers, it isn’t proven whether Foster and/or Williams can win them the game yet.
The Panthers win in three out of four categories. And it hasn’t been the defensive matchups that have hurt the Falcons, but the offensive ones. Our passing game hasn’t been as prolific as hoped this season, and the running game is average at best so far. Until this changes, or until the defense plays absolutely lights out a la the Patriots or Bears, then wins are going to be few. Are the Falcons capable of turning themselves around? Yes, certainly. It’s a division opponent, but it’s also a new head coach for the Falcons, so how he fares against the Panthers is anyone’s guess. The team can get a boost from home field, but I’m not sure how supportive the fan base is going to be this week.
Panthers 20, Falcons 13