When and where: November 17, 2019, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., 1:00 PM ET
The prideful Atlanta Falcons continue their efforts to make good on an ugly season in Sunday’s NFC South divisional tilt with the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matt Ryan returned in Week 10 and stunned the New Orleans Saints in an impressive win on the road. The victory put an end to a six-game losing streak and marked the team’s first win since Week 2. They’ll take on a Panthers team that has lost two of their last three games to a pair of likely playoff contenders in the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.
Falcons show a sign of lifeJust when the Falcons’ 2019 season was seemingly being laid to rest, they sprung back to life before the first few clumps of dirt hit the coffin. Their shocking win on the road over the New Orleans Saints was the kind of occurrence that gives meaning to the oft-used “every given Sunday” phrase.
Where has this Falcons team been all season?
No one ever questioned the talent. It has always been the execution for a team that hasn’t looked the same since Kyle Shanahan hightailed to San Francisco to be a head coach. We’ll see if there’s any road magic left in Sunday’s trip to Charlotte to face the Panthers.
The ability to consistently put pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees will once again be the formula for success when facing Carolina’s Kyle Allen. I’m not ready to sip on the Allen being better than Cam Newton Kool-Aid. He’s a young quarterback that could quickly become unsettled if the Dan Quinn from the Legion of Boom days emerges. The Falcons head coach has to turn the heat up to 100 degrees against Allen.
It would also help if they could figure out a way to slow down running back Christian McCaffrey as well, but I also understand Quinn isn’t a miracle worker. On offense, we need to see the confident and efficient version of Ryan that has been on a milk carton for most of the season. The loss of tight end Austin Hooper stings to the core, but he still has one of the best tandems at receiver in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Of course, it would also help if backup running back Brian Hill decides he wants to join the party as well.
Some of the questionable names to watch on the injury report are safety Kemal Ishmael, tight end Luke Stocker and punter Ryan Allen. Running back Devonta Freeman is listed as doubtful for the game.
Allen era is officially underwayThe building quarterback controversy involving Ryan Allen and Cam Newton didn’t hit the crescendo most anticipated. Newton was placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his 2019 season, and the Panthers have turned into a hot-topic for 2020 trade talks involving their franchise quarterback. This is good news for Allen, who can now focus on the task at hand without Newton’s towering shadow looming over his shoulders.
A week after getting out-dueled by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Allen turns his attention to another former League MVP in Ryan. The Falcons are playing like wounded animals right now, and the 23-year-old quarterback needs to be prepared to see plenty of blitz packages. With seven losses already on their record, the Falcons will be competing like there’s nothing to lose.
You can expect plenty of screen packages featuring McCaffrey in open space. Good things seem to happen whenever the ball is in his hands. It would also help settle down an aggressive Falcons’ defensive front.
The Panthers’ defense won’t miss having to cover Hooper across the middle of the field. They can shift their focus back to stymying the run game, limiting the big-play potential of Jones and forcing Ryan to go the length of the field. Banking on Ryan making a mistake wouldn’t have been a consideration three years ago, but things have obviously changed with an Atlanta offense that has suddenly become turnover-prone.
Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and corner Donte Jackson were both held out of practice on Wednesday with injuries. It could be significant in terms of their availability if that continues to be the case before the weekend.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Falcons are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 head-to-head meetings.
- Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- Panthers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 11.
- Panthers are 3-8 ATS against a team with a losing record.
- Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in November.