The Carolina Panthers' playoff hopes grow slimmer with each loss, so they desperately need to protect their home turf Sunday against the division rival Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have won the past three meetings with Carolina, and they come into the first of two clashes this season riding high after their best performance of the season.
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Atlanta put together an impressive 26-9 win at New Orleans last week to snap a six-game skid. The Falcons' defense continued its steady improvement over the past few games, and the rushing attack had its best game of the season, to help overcome a lackluster showing from the passing game. The Panthers were unable to gain ground on the Saints in the NFC South race, as they lost 24-16 at Green Bay. Carolina has dropped two of its last three since a four-game winning streak to slip two games behind New Orleans.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (2-7): Last week notwithstanding, Atlanta still boasts one of the most prolific passing attacks in the league, though that has something to do with how much the Falcons have played from behind this season. Matt Ryan needs 254 passing yards to surpass Warren Moon (49,325) and move into the top-10 in NFL history, and he has a history of putting up big numbers against the Panthers. Atlanta's downfall has been its minus-12 turnover margin, as the Falcons have forced a league-worst four turnovers in nine games.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (5-4): The team is Kyle Allen's, at least for the rest of this season, with Cam Newton officially on injured reserve, and the second-year quarterback passed for a career-high 307 yards last week. He has one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons at his disposal in Christian McCaffrey, who has 989 yards to lead the league's seventh-ranked rushing attack. The Panthers' weaknesses is defending the run, and they've been hurt badly on the ground in their past three games, allowing an average of 172 rushing yards during that stretch.
1. McCaffrey has scored a rushing touchdown in seven consecutive games and is tied for the league lead with 11 rushing scores.
2. Ryan has averaged 318.1 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in his past seven games against the Panthers.
3. Atlanta K Younghoe Koo made all six of his kicks -- four field goals and two extra points -- in his Falcons' debut last week.
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Key Players to Watch
- GroinQues Sun | questionable
Okung sat out the last game with a groin injury, and it is uncertain if he will line up versus the Cardinals on Sunday.
- ToeQues Sun | questionable
Jackson exited the last game with a toe injury, and it is undetermined if he will be active Sunday versus the Cardinals.
- FootQues Sun | questionable
Short has been absent from the lineup during the previous two games with a foot injury, and it is unknown if he will draw back into the lineup against the Cardinals on Sunday.
- HipQues Sun | questionable
Chinn is dealing with a hip injury, and it is undetermined if he will face the Cardinals on Sunday.
- AnkleQues Sun | questionable
Daley has missed the past three games due to an ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday against the Cardinals.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | I-R
McCaffrey suffered a right high-ankle sprain and has been shifted to the injured reserve list. He is without a definitive timetable for recovery.
- HamstringProb Sun | probable
Thomas-Oliver has sat out the previous two games with a hamstring injury, but he is likely to play Sunday versus the Chargers.
- AnkleProb Sun | probable
Miller is dealing with ankle and groin injuries. It is projected that he will be in Sunday's lineup versus the Chargers.
- FootQues Mon | questionable
Sheffield has sat out the previous three games due to a foot injury, and it is unknown if he will suit up Monday versus the Packers.
- IllnessOut indefinitely | I-R
Terrell Smith has been designated for the Injured Reserve/COVID-19 list and will be sidelined for an indefinite period.
- HamstringQues Mon | questionable
Oluokun was held out of the last game with cramping in his hamstring, and it is undetermined if he will be ready for Monday's clash versus the Packers.
- HeadQues Mon | questionable
Gage left the last game due to a head injury, and his status for Monday's contest against the Packers is in question.
- HipQues Mon | questionable
Jarrett departed the previous game with a hip injury, and it is uncertain if he will line up versus the Packers on Monday.
- GroinOut indefinitely | out
Koo will miss an undetermined length of time due to a groin strain.
- HamstringQues Mon | questionable
Jones is managing a left hamstring strain and did not play in the previous game. It has yet to be determined if he will take the field against the Packers on Monday.
- GroinQues Mon | questionable
McKinley missed the last game due to a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will participate in Monday's matchup against the Packers.