The Atlanta Falcons didn’t look like a team that entered 2009 with any sort of hangover after coming off the high of an unexpected playoff year in 2008. As a matter a fact, their opening day win over the Dolphins was as about as impressive as any they had through the course of their 08 season.
While Michael Turner was held in check with less than 70 yards, Matt Ryan didn’t make any key mistakes, and the Falcons defense kept Miami in check enroute to a big 17-7 win. Now the team will look to go to 2-0 at home again as they take on the reeling Carolina Panthers.
Yes, it’s easy to say the Panthers are somewhat reeling after an opening day disaster at home to the Eagles. Jake Delhomme was again terrible, like the January playoff setback to the Cardinals, as he and the team were unable to do much of anything after an opening drive TD.
The team allowed a punt return for a score, as well as a fumble return off a sack for a touchdown. Delhomme was pulled and the team heard it from the home crowd how they felt getting plenty of boos all day during the setback. Now the question will be can Delhomme and the Panthers bounce back.
Atlanta still fears the Panthers 1-2 running back attack, as well as Delhomme, who is well overdue to have a good game. “Jake Delhomme is an outstanding quarterback,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We anticipate getting their best game on Sunday.”
Last year the teams split their two games, with Carolina winning 24-9 on September 28th, and then Atlanta rebounding for a 45-28 win on November 23rd at the Georgia Dome.
Expect a tough divisional matchup between these two foes. They know each other well, and one player that needs to have a big game for the Panthers is Steve Smith, who was held in check against the Eagles. Their O-line also needs to protect Delhomme.
As for the Falcons, look for Turner to come back to form having a big day vs the Panthers run D. Ryan needs to continue to play it close to the vest, not making any key mistakes. Look for Atlanta to get to 2-0 with a close win as they get a good day from Turner as well as Ryan.
Atlanta 24 Carolina 19