The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers have developed a fierce rivalry over the last 20 years. The two teams first played in 1995 as members of the NFC West and have played twice in every season since. The rivalry did not really begin until both teams moved to the NFC South. The South has been a division of much parody, and the Panthers just last season became the first team to win back to back division titles. All the division games are close, and these two teams in particular have become overly familiar with each other since joining the NFC South.
The rivalry took off after a 2012 loss to the Panthers in which former Panthers defensive end, Greg Hardy, can be seen saying “Get the F*** of my field” after the 4-9 Panthers beat the 11-2 Falcons.
Matt Bryant responded to Hardy by saying, “Have fun watching us in January.” While the Falcons did come up just short of a Super Bowl appearance in 2012, it has been the Panthers who have answered and won the last two division titles.
Each team has one five division titles and one conference title. Neither team has won a Super Bowl, and the Falcons lead the head to head series 24 to 16. Last year, the team’s split the series 1-1, with the Panthers getting the last laugh. The Falcons went on the road and beat the Panthers after jumping out to a nice lead and then holding on late. However in the final game of the season to decide the NFC South division title in the Georgia Dome, the Panthers eviscerated the Falcons by a score of 34 to 3. It was an embarrassing loss for the home team and led to the firing of head coach Mike Smith.
The division will likely come down to these two teams again this upcoming season. Dan Quinn looks to put the Falcons over the top and lead them back to the playoffs, but that will not happen unless the Falcons can find a way beat the Panthers.