In the second divisional matchup of the season the Carolina Panthers travel down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Recently, the Panthers have struggled against Atlanta, losing the last four of six games to the Falcons. And here to catch us up on what we should see from the Dirty Birds today is Jamie Kelly, editor of Blogging Dirty. For the Panthers game preview check out Seth McConell’s weekly game preview and see the Panthers injury report heading into the game and the NFC South Standings here.
1. So far the Falcons haven’t lived up to a lot of the lofty expectations they have on them during the preseason. What do you think has gone wrong?
A mixture of issues, firstly the play of the O-Line. The Falcons in pass protection were terrible early in the season, since then they have picked it up a bit, but the run blocking from the O-Line has still been poor. Michael Turner has been stopped in the back field too often this year.
Another area of concern has been the inconsistency of the secondary play. A few blown coverages here and there have hurt the Falcons dearly.
2. Roddy White doesn’t quite look like the 2010 version. He is near the top of the league in dropped passes, is there anything wrong with White?
Roddy has been hampered by a Knee and a Hamstring injury this season. He has been tough and played through it, but it has clearly hampered his performance thus far. He’s getting healthier week by week but I doubt he will be 100% against Carolina.
3. Cam Newton has been pretty unstoppable at times this season. What have the Falcons coaching staff been saying about how they are going to defend against Newton?
The first obstacle the Falcons staff want to do is limit Cam Newton’s running. They will attempt do this by using linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who had some success in a similar role against Mike Vick and the Eagles. In terms of Cam’s passing ability, the Falcons probably accept they will concede a lot of yards. What they will focus on more is pressuring Newton at opportune times to force mistakes, something that Newton has been susceptible too at times this year. The Falcons do get quite a few turnovers on defense, they currently have the longest active streak in the NFL, when it comes to getting at least one turnover in a game (currently at 24 games).
4. Who is the X-Factor for the Falcons this game if they want to pull out the victory?
With Julio Jones missing through injury, WR Harry Douglass becomes very important in the Falcons offense. Look for the Falcons to get him involved on WR screens and endarounds, to try and utilize his speed.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
The Falcons know this is a must win and as a result will show up in a big way in front of their home crowd. I expect Cam Newton to throw for 300+ yards but I also see him committing at least 2 turnovers that will hurt Carolina. The Falcons pull it out 24-17.