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Falcons Week 4 Preview: Panthers Looking For Revenge

Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons Erik Drost via


The Carolina Panthers are looking for revenge against the Atlanta Falcons

Following a dominant offensive showing on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons face a much different proposition on Sunday as they welcome the Carolina Panthers to the Georgia Dome. Last year’s NFC champions have already lost more games through three weeks than they did in the entirety of the regular season last year, but they still remain one of the league’s superpowers with the talent to make a deep playoff run. Having faced three of the NFL’s worst defenses in the opening three weeks of the season, the Falcons now come up against one of the league’s most imposing units in what will be a huge challenge for what has been an impressive offense in the opening games.

Falcons News

The Falcons managed to put up 45 points and win on Monday despite Julio Jones only catching one pass for 16 yards. Whether the lack of targets was due to the knock that he carried into the game or just the fact that other players were open, it’s an encouraging sign that the team doesn’t have to be as one-dimensional as it was last year, when Matt Ryan’s first three reads all appeared to be Jones.

The coaching staff will have been very encouraged to see first round rookie Keanu Neal contributing in his first regular season game, having been sidelined with an injury since the preseason. The strong safety flashed his hard-hitting potential and will likely be looked upon to help contain Cam Newton, who can count the Falcons among the many teams who have been unable to deal with his athleticism outside of the pocket.

With Desmond Trufant likely to be matched up against Kelvin Benjamin, the Falcons will be hoping that rookie linebacker De’Vondre Campbell can prove that he is healthy enough to play. While the defense had some good moments in coverage, it was concerning to see Coby Fleener have a big game after looking like a free agency bust over the first two weeks. Greg Olsen is a considerably better player and could put up huge numbers if given the opportunity.

On the offensive side of the ball, Matt Ryan participated in full practice on Wednesday and, while Mohamed Sanu was held out, it looks as if he will play.

Panthers News

If the Carolina Panthers ever needed motivation, this is it. Sitting at 1-2 against a division rival and the team who prevented their undefeated season last year, they will be determined to prove that they are still one of the dominant teams in the league.

Despite their record, Cam Newton still looks like the same guy who was the league MVP last season. The Panthers have gone up against two of the best defenses in the league – both Denver and Minnesota proved that the blueprint to slowing him down is still the same, though. Those teams who are able to keep a steady stream of pressure on him and force him to play as a pocket passer find themselves going up against a quarterback who is still very good but not the borderline-unstoppable force that he is when he’s able to use all of his physical tools.

The running game will be made worse by the absence of Jonathan Stewart, but Newton’s running ability certainly makes the jobs of Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker easier. The passing game will be looking for Kelvin Benjamin to get back on track after failing to register a catch against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings.


Despite the teams’ records, the Carolina Panthers have to be considered favorites for this game. Their inexperienced corner backs will be tested by the Falcons’ high-octane passing attack, but Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson are experts at dominating the middle of the field.

Once again, the Falcons will need to rely on their offense to score points and hope that their defense can make just enough plays to stay in the game.