Week 4: Carolina Panthers At Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
The Panthers may have the most spectacular second-year quarterback in the league in Cam Newton, but he is anything but consistent. He not only had a poor game against the Giants – 0 TDs and 3 interceptions – but he lost his cool and has a lot of growing up to do.
Winner Unfortunately for Matt Ryan, his hot start this season is not going to prove anything to his critics. Not only does he have to sustain it during the season, he must play at an elite level when the Falcons get to the postseason. He is an accurate passer with excellent field vision.
The Panthers want to establish that they can run the ball in order to take some of the pressure off of Newton. DeAngelo Williams is capable of doing just that. Wide receiver Steve Smith is still a first-rate threat who can go deep and make the tough catch over the middle. Tight end Greg Olsen has glue-like hands.
Winner The Falcons have an array of weapons to help Ryan get the job done. Wide receiver Roddy White is strong, tough and consistent. Julio Jones has explosive speed and is improving. Tight end Tony Gonzalez turned back the clock in a 9-catch effort against the Chargers.
The Panthers barely showed up defensively in the loss to the Giants. Eli Manning torched them and the Giants ground game got well against them. Head coach Ron Rivera won’t put up with this much longer. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is a big-time tackler, but he needs help from his teammates.
Winner The Falcons defense was on top of its game against the Chargers, shutting down quarterback Philip Rivers on his home turf. The Falcons depend on their speed, quickness and positioning on defense. Cornerback Asante Samuel is giving the Atlanta secondary a major lift while linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is a big hitter.
Special Teams
Winner The Panthers made a huge move to improve their punt- and kickoff-return coverage teams during the offseason and they held the Giants down in both areas. This could be a key advantage for Carolina throughout the season.
Placekicker Matt Bryant has a solid leg and head coach Mike Smith has confidence in him. The Falcons don’t figure to get many big plays from their special teams.

The Winner Is

Wild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants
Winner Falcons
3 out of 4

The Falcons are off to an eye-opening 3-0 start, and they look determined to take the NFC South and secure one of the top two spot in the NFC postseason rankings. There’s one problem to that kind of thinking. There’s still 13 games left in the regular season and the Falcons have the look of a team that may be peaking early. Still, they should be able to handle the enigmatic Panthers.


  1. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass in the first quarter against Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Running back Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by nose tackle Kenny Clark #97 and cornerback Demetri Goodson #39 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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  2. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles avoids Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings as he runs for a first down during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-16.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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  3. GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles out of the pocked during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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