4 keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers at Falcons in Week 1

The long wait for Carolina Panthers football is nearly over.
Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers must keep the Falcons under 20 points

As I mentioned, it may be tough for the Carolina Panthers to put up big numbers offensively. It is never easy for a rookie quarterback during their debut, let alone when they may be missing two of their top receivers. Additionally, the preseason performance of the offensive line, or lack thereof, has been well documented.

This means it could fall on the Panthers' defense - a much healthier, experienced, and even talented group - to carry them to a win on Sunday.

With Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn, and Jeremy Chinn manning the secondary, they should have the upper hand on a very inexperienced and unproven commodity in Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder. It will also help that regardless of Brian Burns' status, guys like Kamu Grugier-Hill, Justin Houston, and Shaq Thompson in the front seven are as experienced as they come.

The biggest task for Carolina defensively will be the other top 10 rookie in this game, running back Bijan Robinson. With all due respect to Kyle Pitts, the former Texas star is the Falcons' most dangerous weapon. I ranked him as the third-best player in the entire 2023 draft class, and his preseason showed he is the real deal.

Carolina was firmly in the middle of the pack last year in rushing defense, but they will have to play like a top-10 unit in Atlanta if they want to contain Robinson. The Panthers are going to need a big effort from Derrick Brown in this matchup.