TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 14: Atlanta Falcons At Carolina Panthers

Falcons
Panthers
Quarterback
Winner Quarterback Matt Ryan continues his sensational season. The sting of criticism that he received in the offseason continues to motivate Ryan to play his best every week. Ryan is an accurate passer with a quick release. He has the quick feet to avoid pressure and he usually makes the proper decision before releasing the ball.
This will be a tough assignment for second-year quarterback Cam Newton. He had a solid game in the Week 13 loss to the Chiefs, throwing three TD passes without an interception. Still, Newton’s decision-making has been quite questionable this year and when he makes mistakes, he has a hard time shaking them off and moving on to the next play.
Offense
Winner The Falcons have a decent running game with Michael Turner, but wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones are special. Turner is not explosive at this point in his career, but he runs with effort and knows how to get the last few inches out of every attempt. White will catch anything he can get his hands on and Jones is a sensational deep threat.
The Panthers have talented players but they rarely play up to that level on the offensive side of the ball. DeAngelo Williams is a good but not great back at this point. Steve Smith is coming off one of his best games of the season, catching five passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Greg Olsen is a big-play threat at the tight end position.
Defense
Winner The Falcons are smart and well-positioned on defense and they are also very fast. They are not the biggest and strongest defensive team, but they make plays when it matters. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have combined for nine interceptions. Defensive end John Abraham does not have young legs anymore and may need to be spotted but he has 10.0 sacks.
The Panthers are not functioning efficiently on the defensive end despite the presence of some decent talent. When you make Brady Quinn look like a decent quarterback, there are problems. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is one of the best tacklers on the team while defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have combined for 16.5 sacks.
Special Teams
Winner The Falcons are confident in placekicker Matt Bryant, who has made 29-of-34 field goal attempts this season. Bryant is 4-of-4 on attempts of 50 yards or longer. Matt Bosher is averaging 47.9 yards per punt. Jacquizz Rodgers can be an explosive kickoff returner.
The Panthers have been lax on special teams and their coverage weaknesses have hurt them this season. Much of that is due to the inadequate punting of Brad Nortman, who is averaging 42.6 yards per punt and he has a net average of 36.2 yards per punt

The Winner Is

Winner Falcons
4 out of 4

The Falcons are now in the home stretch of the regular season and they want homefield advantage throughout the postseason. While they are in a great position with just four weeks to go, head coach Mike Smith is not going to let up in a game against an underachieving Panthers team.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after a play in the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. Kennedy Meeks #3 and Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels react in the second half against the Oregon Ducks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.
    NCAA Championship Tale: 1 Gonzaga Vs. 1 North Carolina

    Gonzaga and North Carolina are set to square off in the NCAA Championship. Let’s break down the matchup.

  2. Joel Berry II #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels handles the ball in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 26, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee. Tyler Dorsey #5 of the Oregon Ducks reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 25, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Final Four Tale: 1 North Carolina Vs. 3 Oregon

    North Carolina and Oregon are set to square off in the Final Four. Let’s break down the matchup.

  3. osh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrateswith teammates in the second half against the Xavier Musketeers during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at SAP Center on March 25, 2017 in San Jose, California. Chris Silva #30 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts after a play against the Florida Gators in the second half during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2017 in New York City.
    Final Four Tale: 1 Gonzaga Vs. 7 South Carolina

    Gonzaga and South Carolina are set to square off in the Final Four. Let’s break down the matchup.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Philly

NFL Draft Guide
Visit These 5 European Castles Without Leaving The States
Videos

Watch & Listen LIVE