Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 17th 2023

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Conversations regarding the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers are drastically different, even for a pair of teams with losing records.

The Falcons have hopes for reaching the postseason, so they don’t want to miss an opportunity when they visit the Carolina Panthers for Sunday afternoon’s game in Charlotte, N.C.

“It’s December football,” Falcons defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. “If you want to play in late January, you got to win these.”

The Falcons (6-7) are battling for first place in the NFC South. The Panthers (1-12) are the only NFC team without a chance to reach the postseason.

So, the attention — and perhaps the pressure — is on the Falcons, who are tied atop their division with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.

“The only thing we can control is we know we’re playing Sunday, and we have to win that game,” Atlanta coach Arthur Smith said.

Atlanta saw its two-game winning streak halted with last week’s 29-25 loss to Tampa Bay. That wasn’t an end-all for the Falcons.

“It will be a crazy finish to the season,” Smith said. “I can promise you that.”

The Falcons recorded a 24-10 win over Carolina when the teams met in the season opener on Sept. 10. That doesn’t carry much meaning to the Falcons going into this weekend.

“This game is going to be as big as any other,” Campbell said.

For the Panthers, there have been shake-ups in personnel and more recently tweaks to the game-week routine.

“We had good practices. We had good meetings,” Panthers interim coach Chris Tabor said, noting adjustments to the practice process. “You’re into the fourth quarter of the season. I think it’s normal; we change things up at the end. You’re still doing all of the same work.”

Tabor said players understand there’s still something to be gained across the last month of the season. He said he anticipates the Panthers will be motivated by attempting to make good impressions.

“We’re on the four-week evaluation. The tape is all that matters,” Tabor said. “Someone is going to say, ‘How did he play when it was really bad and you were in a hard spot?'”

Carolina has endured three games this season without scoring a touchdown on offense.

“We’ll look at all options,” Tabor said.

Panthers quarterback Bryce Young threw for only 137 yards last weekend at New Orleans, marking his second-lowest total of the season. He completed 13 of 36 passes vs. the Saints.

But Tabor isn’t wavering on the commitment to give Young more chances. He said the rookie will be driven to work through kinks.

“The only way you’re going to gain experience in the National Football League is by playing,” Tabor said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Bryce, and I know that there’s games and plays that he’s going to want back. He’s a competitor.”

Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder, who’s in his second season, threw for a career-best 347 yards last week against Tampa Bay.

For the Falcons, it’s possible that linebacker Nate Landman (knee), cornerback Jeff Okudah (ankle), defensive lineman David Onyemata (ankle) and offensive lineman Drew Dalman (ankle) could come off the inactive list, as they’ve been back to practice in some form this week, Smith said.

Carolina linebacker Brian Burns (ankle) and tight end Ian Thomas (ankle) were among players sitting out Wednesday’s practice.

–Field Level Media

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