The Atlanta Falcons of 2015 remind me to some extent of the Carolina Panthers of 2014.
Remember how Carolina went two months without a victory in 2014 – despite having a lot of talent on the field? That’s Atlanta right now. I can’t see how the Falcons have lost five games in a row, but they have. A team that was once 5-0, and then 6-1, has dropped to 6-6. Atlanta hasn’t won since Oct. 25.
Still, the Falcons have some scary good offensive skill players. And Matt Ryan – if he has time – remains an accurate quarterback. This is no gimme. Atlanta is going to break out of the doldrums sometime in December.
▪ Here’s a weird stat, courtesy of the Falcons: Ryan has thrown for at least 200 yards in 38 consecutive road games. So expect 200-plus Sunday. Ryan will throw an occasional bad interception, however, and the Panthers have feasted on such throws several times over the past two years.
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▪ Expect a lo-o-o-ong Cam Newton touchdown dance Sunday if he scores – and it won’t just be dabbin’. Newton always has something special in mind when he plays the Falcons, his hometown team.
▪ Enjoy the weather, Panthers fans. A day this pretty in December must mean you are living right.
▪ OK, prediction time. Carolina needs to control this game on the ground – shutting down Atlanta’s two fine running backs and gaining more than 100 rushing yards, as usual, on offense. The Falcons are capable of scoring 30 on a good day; the Panthers need to make sure it’s not a good day. My pick: Carolina 34, Atlanta 24.
Fowler: email@example.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler