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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Carolina Panthers LB Frankie Luvu vs. Bijan Robinson

I will likely regret what I am about to say. But this game will be decided on the ground.

The passing attack of the Atlanta Falcons is not stellar, to say the least. Therefore, they will more than likely lean heavily on rookie standout Bijan Robinson.

The Falcons would be stupid not to after how porous the Carolina Panthers run defense was last season and even into the preseason. That sort of thing doesn't go unnoticed.

Frankie Luvu will get the call to plug those holes, though it remains to be seen if last season's biggest surprise can step up. Early indications are not very encouraging from the team as a whole, but one can hope once the real action starts, things will get better.

Luvu was nothing short of spectacular last season when thrust into a starting role following a bevy of terrible signings. He picked up 111 tackles to go along with seven sacks, which were both career highs by a considerable margin and a testament to how much the Washington State product has improved.

His contribution went beyond simple statistics. Carolina's defense was an entirely different beast once Luvu settled into the role and learned just how to be an inspirational leader for others to follow.

Constantly chattering, adjusting pre-snap, and attacking with a seemingly endless motor once the action started. If there was a scrum to be had, Luvu would be involved somehow.

That kind of fire and football IQ is exactly what every NFL team looks for in a defensive leader. But Luvu will have his hands full with Robinson this weekend.

The rookie running back is an explosive play waiting to happen. Whether that be in the run game or receiving out of the backfield.

Hitting Robinson early and often, and getting a few early wake-up calls on the former Texas phenom will be the key to this matchup going the Panthers' way. Get the young running back uncomfortable and off rhythm. And most importantly, finish the tackle.