- Record: 2-5
- Offense Passing: 4th
- Offense Rushing: 32nd
- Defense Passing: 22nd
- Defense Rushing: 22nd
- Record: 4-3
- Offense Passing: 29th
- Offense Rushing: 8th
- Defense Passing: 10th
- Defense Rushing: 2th
Keys to the Game
Atlanta: Julio, Julio, where art thou Julio? Matt Ryan hasn’t been bad this year but he is certainly missing his top target Juilo Jones. However, the Falcons have to move on from the injuries and start playing football. This was a team everyone considered to be Super Bowl contenders but why can’t they win. The reason they aren’t winning is because they have become one dimensional. Yes, if you look at the Falcons they can pass but wheres the run game. The key for the Falcons in week 9 is to get the rushing attack back. Getting the rushing attack back starts with Steven Jackson and ends with Jacquizz Rodgers. These guys compliment each other well and the Falcons need to find a way to use them and stop being one dimensional. I almost forgot, on the defensive side the Falcons need to stop this guy named Cam Newton. Yeah, some call him Superman but he is human and the Falcons need to find his kryptonite early in the game.
Carolina: For the first time since 2008, the Panthers find themselves above .500 and I believe coach Ron Rivera would like to keep it that way. However, it’s not going to be an easy task beating the Falcons even though they have struggled this year. The fact is, if the Panthers want to win, Cam Newton needs play at a high level. When Newton is playing well the Panthers are a team that could easily be a contender come playoff time. But like I said, that’s only when Cam is playing well, and we have all witnessed his play on bad days. Another key aspect for the Panthers is stopping the Falcons passing game. You may be asking, who is the player who must be contained? Remember the future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez? He is still a Falcon and he is going to be looking to turn this season around. The Panthers have had a good defense this year, but the Falcons may shock them if they aren’t careful.
What to Watch for
Atlanta: For many of you, you may not know the Falcons wide receivers without Roddy White and Julio Jones. However, I will be focusing on Harry Douglas. Somehow Douglas has become a new favorite target of Ryan’s and he has been turning some heads. Also, I will be watching Steven Jackson. Jackson has been a great running back in the NFL and when he came to Atlanta I figured his success would continue. However, Jackson has been struck with the injury bug since week 2. But now he is back and after shaking off the rust last week I look forward to seeing if he still has what it take.
Carolina: Running back by committee, that’s what you should be watching for. I am talking about DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, and Cam Newton (Newton is the second leading rushing in Carolina, so it counts). The Panthers use a nice three man punch to keep the defense guessing. So far many defenses have had a hard time stopping the three headed monster. Also, how could anyone forget Steve Smith. Some people hate him and some people love him but you have to admit the guy can play football. He is cocky but he makes the games more interesting, definitely keep an eye on Smith.
If you asked me at the beginning of the year who would have won this match-up, hands down I would have gone with the Falcons. However, just eight weeks later its a whole different story. The Panthers are thriving and the Falcons look to be a wounded. Even though it looks like the teams are going in different directions, this game could be close because its a divisional game. However, I have to go with the Panthers.
Final Score: Carolina 27 Atlanta 16