Carolina Panthers: Falcons injuries could work in Carolina’s favor

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 10: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after a touchdown pass to Austin Hooper #81 against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 10, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 10: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after a touchdown pass to Austin Hooper #81 against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 10, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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The Carolina Panthers will face an undermanned Atlanta team on Sunday.

It’s no secret that the Carolina Panthers are banged up heading into Sunday’s contest against the Atlanta Falcons. Fortunately for the Panthers, the Falcons are experiencing injuries of their own. Most notably, tight end Austin Hooper and running back Devonta Freeman will be a “longshot” to play per a report from Panthers.com.

That is definitely a big development. Hooper has been an asset for the passing game. On the season, the tight end has recorded 56 catches for 608 yards and six touchdowns. His best game of the season came on September 29 game against the Tennessee Titans. In that game, he caught nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He has been a main target in the offense, having caught a touchdown in each of his last four games. He caught two touchdowns in a game against Indianapolis on September 22. The bottom line is, his absence on Sunday could be a huge loss for the Falcons.

Freeman has carried the ball 107 times for 371 yards. His best game of the season came in the Indianapolis game. He rushed the ball 16 times for 88 yards, and he was a strong presence in the backfield. His numbers aren’t what they used to be, but he is still a very serviceable football player. With the Falcons being such a run-heavy team, his presence will definitely be missed in the backfield for Atlanta.

The Panthers should definitely try to take advantage of these two key players being out. Especially in the run game, they should stack the box and force Atlanta to throw. For the first time in quite a while, their passing game is not their strong suit. If Panthers can take away Atlanta’s rhythm in the running game, that will make them extremely one-dimensional.

It will be interesting to see how both teams combat their injuries. With injuries at key positions for all involved, it will be a battle of who can exploit each other’s weaknesses the best. Especially with how poorly they performed in the run game last week, this is a chance for Carolina to boost their confidence  by having a good showing on Sunday. They certainly need to make adjustments to stop the bleeding against the run. It would be nice if adjustments showed up in the game plan on Sunday. Hopefully, Carolina has reviewed tape and figured out what they need to do in order to be better.