The Atlanta Falcons (4-5) will be back on the road this week to take on the Carolina Panthers (2-7) in Bank of America Stadium at 8:15 p.m. EST Thursday night. A rematch of two division rivals, both teams coming off losses will look to bounce back this week.
The Panthers offense led by PJ Walker, has been one of the league’s worst offenses. As a unit they average 289.9 yards of total offense a game; 184.6 passing yards per game and 105.3 rushing yards per game.
PJ Walker stepped in a few weeks ago due to the injuries to Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold has struggled, completing 58.9% of his passes for 623 yards and three touchdowns for a total QBR of 77.2.
Running back D’Onta Foreman has been solid after stepping in for the traded Christian McCaffrey and injured Chuba Hubbard. He has rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver D.J. Moore, last seen in the Falcons endzone, has also played well, hauling in 35 catches for 449 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line predictably on a bad offense has struggled. According to Pro Football Network they are a tier 3 offensive line.
Defensively the Panthers have regressed from last season when they gave up the second-fewest yards in the NFL. As a unit they are giving up 370.3 yards per game; 231 passing yards per game and 139.3 rushing yards per game.
The Falcons have exceeded expectations with the league’s No. 8 scoring offense. As a unit they average 320.1 yards per game; 157.2 passing yards per game and 162.9 rushing yards per game.
Marcus Mariota has been a very limited passer this season. He’s completed 61.7% of his passes for 1,561 yards and ten touchdowns for a total QBR of 59.7. His 1,561 yards ranks him 22nd in the NFL, but his overall rating places him ninth.
The backfield saw the return of Cordarrelle Patterson last week and, continues to play phenomenally. Last week they rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Drake London hasn’t been able to replicate his early season performances. He’s hauled in 33 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns.
Tight end Kyle Pitts 23 passes receptions for 285 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line continues to exceed expectations as well. According to Pro Football Network they are a tier 2 offensive line, and right tackle Kaleb McGary received a whopping 91.6 grade from Pro Football Network last week.
Defensively, the Falcons have been one of the league’s worst units. As a group, they are giving up 406.9 total yards of offense a game; 300 passing yards per game and 106.9 rushing yards per game. The passing yardage ranks them last in the NFL, and their 25.0 points per game ranks them 26th.
The Falcons come into this game as 2.5-point favorites according to My Bookie. This is the second time this season the Falcons have been favored, both against the Panthers.
Offensively the Falcons are going to continue to try and run the ball down the opposing team’s throat. The backfield, with Patterson who missed a month on injured reserve, is one of the league’s best units. The Panthers aren’t a very good team against the run.
Last week Mariota missed a few big throws, limiting the overall production and effectiveness of the offense.
London and Pitts will have to continue to show that they can be threats in order to help open up the running game. London will see matchups of Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson. Horn is the 32nd ranked corner in the NFL according to PFF.
Pitts will see a variety of coverages led by linebacker Shaq Thompson and safeties Sean Chandler and Jeremy Chinn. These are very favorable matchups and Pitts could be in line for a breakout performance.
Defensively, the Falcons have a favorable matchup this week, though cornerback A.J. Terrell is out for a third straight game. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver and safety Richie Grant both had excellent games against the LA Chargers last week.
Grady Jarrett and company have a relatively favorable matchup this week and should be able to generate pressure. The pass rush has improved over last year, but is still underwhelming totaling just 12 sacks this season. If the Falcons can get to Walker and make him uncomfortable, this game will be over very quickly.
Offensively, the Panthers are going to mix in both the run and the pass. With the Falcons defense being one of the worst units in the league, the Panthers should be able to move the ball effectively.
Foreman rushed for over 100 yards in the last meeting, and the Panthers will lean on hm again. With Terrell possibly being out, the Panthers will rely heavily on Moore again.
The offensive line, who have been solid, are facing a tough matchup this week. So far this season, the Panthers have given up 21 sacks. This week they’ll have their work cut out for them as they are facing Grady Jarrett and Company.
A battle of two division rivals on Amazon Prime, the Falcons should be able to take advantage of this weak and undermanned Panthers squad. They should be able to run all over this defense which will open up the passing game.
The Panthers could also be in for a big time performance as the Falcons are coming into this game a little banged up. Moore and D’Onta Foreman could all have big games.
Could we be in for another shootout? Or will one team take care of business early?
Score Prediction: Falcons 28 Panthers 20