The Atlanta Falcons will welcome the Carolina Panthers to town this Sunday. After letting head coach Ron Rivera go this week, the Panthers are looking to right the ship.
A lot has changed since less than a month ago when the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers played in Charlotte. The Panthers were still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot and possible NFC South title. Ron Rivera was still the head coach of the Panthers. Now, coming into this game on Sunday, the Panthers have lost four straight games to fall out of the playoff race. Perry Fewell, not Ron Rivera, will be the interim head coach when the Panthers take the field on Sunday.
Since the Carolina game where the Falcons completely shut down the Panthers, the Falcons have gotten back to their losing ways. Back-to-back NFC South losses to the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dropped the Falcons to a 3-9 record, officially eliminating the minuscule playoff percentages the Falcons had after clawing back to 3-7. Now, with four games remaining in the season, the Falcons will focus on next season and the draft.
Looking ahead at Sunday’s game, the Falcons have a great chance to sweep the Carolina Panthers for the season. If the Falcons can look like the team that played in Carolina in mid-November, this Falcons team should have no issue handing the Panthers their fifth-straight loss. If the same team that played against Tampa shows up, the Panthers should get back to winning ways.
With Cam Newton announcing he will undergo foot surgery, Kyle Allen will remain the starter for the rest of the season. This is great news for the Falcons defense, who picked off Allen four times and sacked him as well as keeping the Panthers out of the endzone. It’s still unclear what divine taking over the Falcons defense that Sunday, but if the Falcons can get half of that from their defense this Sunday, the Falcons will be in a position to win this game.
Speaking of injured superstars, Julio Jones may return to action on Sunday. Jones was seen practicing this week as he tries to work through a shoulder injury. With Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage both questionable, it’s good news for Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense that Julio could be back in the lineup on Sunday. I would predict all three wideouts play on Sunday.
If I was asked, I would predict the Falcons find a way to win this game. The Panthers are in the middle of imploding with the midseason firing of Rivera. There’s a chance the Panthers come into Atlanta motivated to win for their new coach, Fewell, but I like the way the Falcons played this Panthers team less than a month ago. Even though a win will damage the Falcons draft pick and will likely get closer to keeping Dan Quinn safe, I still think the Falcons win.