Saturday, September 15, 2018
Coming off a big win against the Cowboys in week one at home, the Panthers hit the road to Georgia, to face division rival Atlanta.
Atlanta is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Philadelphia in week one, in which they seemed to be their own worst enemy. Staring down the barrel of a potential 0-2 start in a highly competitive division, they know this will be a big game for them.
For the Panthers, victory last week came at a cost. They lost Greg Olsen to injury after he fractured his right foot. It was a devastating blow for Carolina, as he has historically performed very well against the Falcons. Even more so, Olsen is perhaps the only receiver that Cam completely trusts. That safety blanket is no longer there. Rookie Ian Thomas will get the start in Olsen’s place.
They Panthers lost offensive tackle Daryl Williams as well, as he’ll undergo surgery on his right knee at the advice of the team physician, Dr. Pat Connor. The Panthers offensive line was already a question mark moving into the regular season and will now look to adapt to help provide more protection for quarterback Cam Newton.
For the Falcons, they’ll be missing starting running back Devonta Freeman, as he’s expected to be out for two to three weeks with a contusion in his knee. Freeman had a quiet game in week one, as the Falcons offense struggled.
To win, the Panthers must give Cam Newton time to run through his reads and develop a running game, to wear down a young Falcons defense, which seems to run out of gas in the second half. They also must keep pressure on Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones and they must keep consistent pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who folded like an accordion last week against the Eagles pass rush.
The Falcons usually play well at home and will be looking to go after the Panthers secondary with a heavy dose of passing, putting Carolina out of their game plan and attempting to force them to come from behind.
Atlanta is the six point favorite, but Carolina won’t roll over easily.