Biggest storylines for Panthers vs. Falcons in Week 10

For the first time all season, the Carolina Panthers will be the only show in town for the NFL. And with the division rival Atlanta Falcons joining them for this Thursday night matchup, there will be a few storylines that could make this primetime showing an interesting one.

Walking on a thin line?

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As interim head coach Steve Wilks said on Monday, he’s not going to bench a player because of one bad game—which is exactly what PJ Walker had in Week 9. But when you’re the third-best quarterback on the roster, your leash isn’t going to be too long.

Two important developments occurred after Walker passed for just nine yards and a pair of interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals—Baker Mayfield immediately led three touchdown drives in an encouraging relief appearance and Sam Darnold was placed back on the active roster. So if Walker—who threw for a career-high 317 yards 11 days ago against Atlanta—can’t put together a stable step forward, Wilks has two bad games he can reference and two other options he can call upon with seven games to go.

The runs

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The Bengals, specifically running back Joe Mixon, ripped the Panthers a new one this past Sunday. Cincinnati’s double-up win saw their standout rusher record 153 yards and four touchdowns on the ground alone—not to mention his 58 other yards and his other score through the air.

Overall, the Carolina defense—which exhibited poor tackling, angles and effort throughout their performance—relinquished 241 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in Week 9. And with Atlanta—the third-most run-heavy offense in football—on deck, they’ll continue to get tested.

To their credit, the Panthers weren’t too weak in their first test against the Falcons’ run game in Week 8—allowing 4.5 yards per carry over 37 tries. But that run game didn’t have its top rusher in Cordarrelle Patterson that afternoon. They will in this one.

Welcome to primetime

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This game is going to have . . . an aesthetic.

For one, the Panthers are set to bust out the blackout—debuting their new black helmets to go along with their black tops and black britches. Yay uniforms!

Charlotte, N.C. will also be bombarded with some less than ideal weather tonight. Hurricane Nicole is currently forecasted to drop some moderate winds and rainfall onto Bank of America Stadium.

Oh, and it’s also a Thursday night game—and we all know how, um, special these primetime displays can be. So enjoy what’ll likely be, especially with two NFC South teams, a beautiful disaster.

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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire