Carolina Panthers Week 14 preview at the Atlanta Falcons.
The first game for Carolina Panthers (5-7) interim coach Perry Fewell comes against an NFC South divisional rival. After being embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons (3-9) a few weeks ago, Carolina owner David Tepper elected to make a personnel change and parted ways with long time coach Ron Rivera.
Although the move was expected if Carolina didn’t salvage a few more wins before finishing the season, firing Rivera with four games remaining came as a bit of a surprise. Tepper undoubtedly had his reasons and Rivera seemingly understood back-to-back late season collapses – seven consecutive losses in 2018 and four since the midpoint this year – were enough to warrant a change.
As Fewell begins his audition for a potential full time appointment, it will be interesting to see if any immediate changes are present. While unlikely any drastic differences surface in such a short time frame, Sunday presents a very winnable game against a rival that could garner the team some much needed momentum throughout the final quarter of this season.
2019 SEASON: CAROLINA PANTHERS (5-7) at ATLANTA FALCONS (3-9)
KICKOFF: Sunday, December 8 at 1:00 PM ET
TV: FOX (Broadcast Coverage Map)
LOCATION: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)
LAST MEETING: 29-3, FALCONS – November 17, 2019 (WEEK 11)
WHAT TO WATCH:
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How the team responds after the firing of Rivera will be interesting. For the first time since 2011, a new coach will roam the sidelines for the Panthers and while the response has been a mix of excitement and respect, if Fewell can spark a change has yet to be determined.
Rivera took over defensive play calling duties late last season and continued this year indicating a change in pressure or coverages may be coming. On offense, Norv Turner will relinquish the decision making to his son, Scott, over these final four games.
Major changes aren’t anticipated but the Panthers may get a look at a few individuals who have been awaiting an opportunity. Quarterback Will Grier could see some playing time if Kyle Allen struggles, in addition to an aggressive approach that typically coincides with an interim coach who has nothing to lose.
Even if Fewell isn’t the long-term answer for Tepper and the Panthers, these next four games will serve as an audition should he decide to pursue other openings around the league.