If the Atlanta Falcons are going to be taken seriously as an up and coming team, they are going to have to prove it in a tough place vs a good team. No better time for that than Sunday when they travel to Bank of America Stadium to take on the 2-1 Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are smarting after blowing a 10-0 lead vs the Vikings and eventually losing 20-10 on Sunday in Minnesota. The Falcons pounded the awful Chiefs last week at home to move to 2-1.
Now we’ll see if Michael Turner and wonder kid Matt Ryan has what it takes to beat their biggest rival on the road. Last season this was the game where Panthers QB Jake Delhomme injured his right elbow that led to surgery and him missing the rest of the season when the shot took place on September 23rd in the Panthers 27-20 win. He’ll come out with something to prove vs the Falcons.
Look for the Falcons to do what they do best – run the ball and keep Ryan protected to try and make some big plays. The Panthers were victims of allowing backup Gus Frerotte to hit a few pass plays that hurt them Sunday in Minnesota, and they can’t allow that to Ryan, who was good at home last week, but struggled on the road two weeks ago vs Tampa Bay.
The Panthers were not able to run at all vs the Vikings, but vs the Falcons they should have plenty of success with rookie Jonathan Stewart and company finding holes. Also look for Delhomme to go back to his old pal Steve Smith in his first home game of the year. Smith did have four catches for 70 yards vs the Vikings in his first game of the year Sunday.
Carolina had 12 penalites last week, so that is a concern, but things should be more under control at home. The Falcons will be the one that has to deal with noise and a Panthers D that will be looking to educate Matt Ryan in pain. Atlanta has had success at home, but this is a different setting, and the Panthers should be able to go to 3-1 after topping their rival on Sunday.