3 crucial matchups that could decide Carolina Panthers at Falcons in Week 1

Frankie Luvu
Frankie Luvu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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What matchups deserve the most attention as the Carolina Panthers head into a Week 1 battle against the Atlanta Falcons?

It is finally here, Carolina Panthers fans.

The start of the season is only a few short days away and with it comes a realm of new possibilities. The only known thing about an NFL campaign is that we know nothing, which is exactly what the Panthers are this year - an unknown.

There have been very few offseasons that have seen as much change as the Panthers went through this year. From an entirely new coaching staff to the trading of the last remaining face of the offense, to the drafting of another quarterback at No. 1 overall. A lot has changed.

The conclusion as to whether these changes are for the better or worse will have to wait until the dust settles in a few months. However, there is some reason for optimism after moments, flashes, of what this exceedingly young team could be capable of during the preseason.

That isn't to say that we should expect this team to make a deep playoff run, much to the contrary in fact. This is a year of discovery, a season to figure out precisely what the organization has in its young players and which aging veterans to keep around to help nurture the next generation.

It may be ugly at times, it may even be hard to watch. But these are the growing pains of an inexperienced team. Each mistake, every head-scratching play, is an opportunity for learning and that is what this team needs.

So with that said, the NFC South is an incredibly weak division this season and there is a real chance the Panthers could come out on top should things go right. The first challenge is a tricky-looking trip to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.

While the Falcons are not exactly the cream of the crop, there are still plenty of matchups that will make or break the clash. But just what may they be?