Panthers vs. Falcons: 2 keys to a Carolina win in Week 8

Tim Weaver
·1 min read

The Panthers host the Falcons in primetime tonight. If they win, they’ll head into a sort of mini-bye week with a 4-4 record and a chance to redefine how their 2020 season will go. A loss will drop them to 3-5 and have a huge impact on their chances of earning a wild card spot.

Here are two keys to a Carolina victory on Thursday Night Football.

Offense: Let Teddy Cook

Teddy Bridgewater absolutely smoked the Falcons in the first half the last time these teams played. They slowed him down some in the second, but throwing the ball aggressively against Atlanta’s defense is still the right idea. Heading into Week 8, the Falcons rank No. 31 in pass defense DVOA and only the Seahawks have allowed more passing yards per game this year. The Panthers should be throwing a lot, especially on early downs. If Bridgewater gets into rhythm and starts embracing his deep ball Atlanta is in trouble.

Defense: Contain Todd Gurley

The Panthers have done a magnificent job defending the pass this season, allowing just 227.1 yards per game through the air. As in 2019, they continue to have serious issues stopping the run, though. Opponents are averaging 4.9 yards per carry against Carolina, the fifth-highest mark in the NFL. In Week 5, the Falcons went off for 166 yards on the ground. Todd Gurley accounted for 121 of them and averaged 8.6 yards per rush. Containing Gurley will begin in the trenches, where an injury-ravaged Panthers defensive front has to do better against the Falcons’ all-first-round offensive line.

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