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Falcons set to face Cam Newton, angry Panthers team looking for revenge


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Falcons set to face Cam Newton, angry Panthers team looking for revenge

Vaughn McClure

LOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Carolina Panthers felt pretty good about themselves riding into the Georgia Dome last year with a 14-0 record. Then the Atlanta Falcons ended their dreams of an undefeated season.

Surely the Panthers, off to a 1-2 start, still have a bad taste in their mouths after that 20-13 loss to the Falcons in Week 16. And now they come to Atlanta fresh off a 22-10 home loss to a Minnesota Vikings team playing without Adrian Peterson.

Can the 2-1 and NFC South-leading Falcons duplicate last year's feat? Well, it will be quite a challenge against a Panthers defense that is light years better than the one put on the field by the Saints Monday night. And although reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton got thrown around like a rag doll against the Vikings (eight sacks), he is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback capable of outscoring the Falcons by his lonesome.

Here are six Panthers to watch, courtesy of ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton:

QB Cam Newton: Not all of the eight sacks against the NFL MVP by Minnesota can be blamed on the offensive line. Pro Football Focus credited three of the sacks on Newton for holding onto the ball too long. Teams are going to blitz Newton after seeing how Denver and Minnesota have disrupted him with it. Newton has to adjust and get rid of the ball quicker. He was 6-for-11 for 61 yards with three sacks when blitzed by the Vikings.

WR Kelvin Benjamin: Cam Newton said it was "baffling and wowing" that Benjamin was held without a catch against Minnesota, the first time in his NFL career that has happened. That Benjamin was only targeted once, and that one almost was intercepted late, was just as baffling. The 6-foot-5 receiver was averaging 5.3 catches and 10.2 targets a game before Sunday. This came after Benjamin had 13 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. Yes, wowing and baffling, but there should be plenty of targets against a suspect Atlanta defense.

LT Michael Oher: Oher struggled against Minnesota's pass rush, giving up two sacks and five hurries. The Vikings often loaded up Oher's side and came right at him. He'll likely get similar looks from Atlanta, and for Cam Newton to be effective he'll have to play stout instead of looking like he is on skates going backwards.

DEFENSE

CB James Bradberry: The matchup with Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones was one former Carolina cornerback Josh Norman looked forward to the past two seasons. Norman more than held his own. Now that task likely falls on Bradberry, a second-round pick out of Samford. Bradberry has played well when matched up against Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Minnesota's Stefon Diggs. He had PFF's highest cornerback rating in Week 2 against San Francisco, and graded out at 80.8 on Sunday against Minnesota. He limited Diggs to three catches for 34 yards on six targets. He's got the height (6-1) and physicality to match up with Jones (6-3), but this definitely will be his toughest test to date.

LB Luke Kuechly: He's coming off his best game of the season with 12 tackles against Minnesota. He also played his usual stout self in pass coverage despite giving up a couple of first downs to tight end Kyle Rudolph. But Kuechly, as we saw when he wound up about 50 yards downfield covering Julio Jones last season, has to be at the top of his game against an Atlanta offense that will attack the middle of the field with Jones and a tandem of running backs that carried the offense against New Orleans.

CB Robert McClain: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is again looking like the Pro Bowler that racked up big passing numbers. That could mean a lot more nickel for the Panthers, which would mean a lot more McClain. If so, he'll play a big role since the Falcons will line Julio Jones up all over the place to get him more involved against a Carolina defense that will make it tough to run.

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2 minutes ago, theProf said:

Falcons set to face Cam Newton, angry Panthers team looking for revenge

Vaughn McClure

LOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Carolina Panthers felt pretty good about themselves riding into the Georgia Dome last year with a 14-0 record. Then the Atlanta Falcons ended their dreams of an undefeated season.

Surely the Panthers, off to a 1-2 start, still have a bad taste in their mouths after that 20-13 loss to the Falcons in Week 16. And now they come to Atlanta fresh off a 22-10 home loss to a Minnesota Vikings team playing without Adrian Peterson.

Can the 2-1 and NFC South-leading Falcons duplicate last year's feat? Well, it will be quite a challenge against a Panthers defense that is light years better than the one put on the field by the Saints Monday night. And although reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton got thrown around like a rag doll against the Vikings (eight sacks), he is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback capable of outscoring the Falcons by his lonesome.

Here are six Panthers to watch, courtesy of ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton:

QB Cam Newton: Not all of the eight sacks against the NFL MVP by Minnesota can be blamed on the offensive line. Pro Football Focus credited three of the sacks on Newton for holding onto the ball too long. Teams are going to blitz Newton after seeing how Denver and Minnesota have disrupted him with it. Newton has to adjust and get rid of the ball quicker. He was 6-for-11 for 61 yards with three sacks when blitzed by the Vikings.

WR Kelvin Benjamin: Cam Newton said it was "baffling and wowing" that Benjamin was held without a catch against Minnesota, the first time in his NFL career that has happened. That Benjamin was only targeted once, and that one almost was intercepted late, was just as baffling. The 6-foot-5 receiver was averaging 5.3 catches and 10.2 targets a game before Sunday. This came after Benjamin had 13 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. Yes, wowing and baffling, but there should be plenty of targets against a suspect Atlanta defense.

LT Michael Oher: Oher struggled against Minnesota's pass rush, giving up two sacks and five hurries. The Vikings often loaded up Oher's side and came right at him. He'll likely get similar looks from Atlanta, and for Cam Newton to be effective he'll have to play stout instead of looking like he is on skates going backwards.

DEFENSE

CB James Bradberry: The matchup with Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones was one former Carolina cornerback Josh Norman looked forward to the past two seasons. Norman more than held his own. Now that task likely falls on Bradberry, a second-round pick out of Samford. Bradberry has played well when matched up against Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Minnesota's Stefon Diggs. He had PFF's highest cornerback rating in Week 2 against San Francisco, and graded out at 80.8 on Sunday against Minnesota. He limited Diggs to three catches for 34 yards on six targets. He's got the height (6-1) and physicality to match up with Jones (6-3), but this definitely will be his toughest test to date.

LB Luke Kuechly: He's coming off his best game of the season with 12 tackles against Minnesota. He also played his usual stout self in pass coverage despite giving up a couple of first downs to tight end Kyle Rudolph. But Kuechly, as we saw when he wound up about 50 yards downfield covering Julio Jones last season, has to be at the top of his game against an Atlanta offense that will attack the middle of the field with Jones and a tandem of running backs that carried the offense against New Orleans.

CB Robert McClain: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is again looking like the Pro Bowler that racked up big passing numbers. That could mean a lot more nickel for the Panthers, which would mean a lot more McClain. If so, he'll play a big role since the Falcons will line Julio Jones up all over the place to get him more involved against a Carolina defense that will make it tough to run.

And the Falcons are looking to pizz all over their anger to cool them down a bit. 

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8 minutes ago, likeriver said:

I think our offense can put up around 20-ish points against them, but our defense will not be ready for a RB/QB hybrid, nor will they be able to handle KB. I wish we had Campbell to deal with Olsen as well.

 

So final score will probably be like 20 - 35 Panthers.

We can handle Benjamin. I'm more worried about getting pressure on Cam. I actually think we match up better against them than New Orleans. 

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12 minutes ago, PHALCONABERNATHY said:

We can handle Benjamin. I'm more worried about getting pressure on Cam. I actually think we match up better against them than New Orleans. 

The biggest thing is our guys have to be disciplined upfront....it is so cliche but it true.. We also need big games from our inside guys. If we can get in cams face up the middle then he gets flustered(like most qbs)

 

I feel pretty good about this game ...better than I did about the saints game....and I felt pretty good with that one.

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They're angry? LOL. They're also scared because they know they're not unbeatable, the Falcons have the best offense in the NFL, playing with a ton of confidence and playing at home where the fans will be screaming for their heads on a platter.

Plan A I would think is to get in Cam's face, rough him up, force him into a some early INT's. Since Plan A is just a schoolboy fantasy that won't materialize until far in the future, we'll likely concentrate on Plan B, which is pull out every trick rabbit Shannie has in his trick rabbit hat and outscore them, say 52-49, with a last-second Bryant FG putting the final touch on the win.

Of course, with that nasty Panty D, we really can't hang our helmets on being able to outscore them without some kind of help, which leads us inevitably and inexorably to dreaded Plan C, which is for the D to deny the ball to Olsen, Benjamin and stop Cam from running all over them on keeper plays. Get off the field at least a few times with 3-and-outs.

If none of those plans can be successfully implemented, it's going to be a very tough loss to accept, but the Falcons should grow on both sides of the ball from playing against a team that went to the SB last year.

It'll either be a big win or a valuable lesson provider for playing against the tough teams through the rest of the season.

 

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2 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

They're angry? LOL. They're also scared because they know they're not unbeatable, the Falcons have the best offense in the NFL, playing with a ton of confidence and playing at home where the fans will be screaming for their heads on a platter.

Plan A I would think is to get in Cam's face, rough him up, force him into a some early INT's. Since Plan A is just a schoolboy fantasy that won't materialize until far in the future, we'll likely concentrate on Plan B, which is pull out every trick rabbit Shannie has in his trick rabbit hat and outscore them, say 52-49, with a last-second Bryant FG putting the final touch on the win.

Of course, with that nasty Panty D, we really can't hang our helmets on being able to outscore them without some kind of help, which leads us inevitably and inexorably to dreaded Plan C, which is for the D to deny the ball to Olsen, Benjamin and stop Cam from running all over them on keeper plays. Get off the field at least a few times with 3-and-outs.

If none of those plans can be successfully implemented, it's going to be a very tough loss to accept, but the Falcons should grow from playing against a team that went to the SB last year, and on both sides of the ball. It'll either be a big win or a valuable lesson provider for playing against the tough teams through the rest of the season.

 

Plan A worked last time the Falcons played them, so I am not ready to give up on that plan yet. Actually I am all for a bit of plan A and plan B.....beat up Cam, score a ton and win 35-13 or so. :)

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Going to be interesting, when the panthers faced the best offense they've faced, the broncos, only reason they didn't lose by 3 TDs is the broncos keep turning the ball over deep in panther territory. Broncos moved the ball up and down the field easily with a QB making his first start. If Falcons can do that and hang onto the ball, be a long day for the panthers.

Panthers Oline is not great and Cam hasn't handled the pressure well, if the falcons can get pressure on Cam, will also make a long day for the panthers. Newton has an ankle injury, blitzing Brees constantly doesn't make sense, may be the right call against Cam.

Panthers are missing some of their depth on the DLine, including their first round DT.  Ealy, Short and Johnson haven't been impressive so far-Beasley has more sacks than them combined. yes, that means that none of them has a sack.

Panthers are a team in disarray right now. Like to see the Falcons make sure they stay that way. They certainly have enough talent to come in and win, but they also have flaws the Falcons can exploit. 

 

Falcons can win and take early control of the division

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53 minutes ago, papachaz said:

that team that went 14-0 last year? 

 

they're 2-3 in their last five regular season games...

AND they lost back to back games against the same team

don't sound so invincible to me

Minnie's D won their game, but they  still put up 22 with a  tight end and no running game.  I think we can feed them at least a thirty burger.

 

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The Falcons have to pressure Cam. Their line struggles against speed rushers so Beasley and Freeney must make their presence known.

This offense is better this time around so I'm more comfortable about their chances against Carolina. Outside of their tackle rotation and linebackers, Carolina's defense is suspect. 

Ultimately, if we can't get pressure, this will be a long game.

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