Falcons hold Cam Newton to under 200 yards passing with 2 interceptions
Cam Newton has never been my favorite quarterback. As an athlete, he is as fantastic as they come, but his inaccuracies as a passer make me hesitant to compare him to some of the better quarterbacks in the league. The Falcons defense was stellar last year against Cam and should have similar success in this matchup as well.
Norv Turner is the new man calling plays for the Panthers. Perhaps, he can open up new doors for Newton as a passer, but it was not evident this past weekend against the Cowboys. The 2015 MVP finished with 161 yards in the air with no touchdowns and no interceptions as Carolina managed to score only 16 points. It was enough to give the Panthers a win, but it was not a great start to the Norv Turner era.
The Atlanta defense looked as crisp as ever in their season opener in Philadelphia. The loss of Keanu Neal is a tough one, but Damontae Kazee is a viable option as a starter. It would not surprise me if the ball hawk in him comes out in this game against Newton. The Falcons should have enough up front to pressure Newton into quick decisions, which usually results in turnovers. Atlanta finds at least two interceptions, while Newton fails to throw for over 200 yards.
Falcons fail to score 20 points on offense, again.
I fell into the trap this offseason, believing the offense would look marginally better than it did in Sarkisian’s first year. I do not believe that to be the case any longer. Sarkisian has repeatedly shown an inability to create plays that result in mismatches around the goal line. The offense lacks creativity, and was frankly, cringeworthy to watch against Philadelphia.
The Panthers defense might not be as good as the Eagles, but they sure did a hell of a job against Dallas this past weekend. Their defensive line will present a similar problem to Philadelphia’s with a bevy of people who can get after the passer. I expect the Falcons to have success moving down the field, but in the red zone, these problems are not just going to go away. It is going to take a different philosophical approach for that happen, and that is something I am no longer sure Sarkisian is capable of. If the Falcons score over 20 points, it is because their defense comes up with some game-changing plays.
Christian McCaffrey records 25 yards rushing but 100 yards receiving
Christian McCaffery is going to get a ton of work for Carolina in Norv Turner’s new offense. The Panthers offensive line is nothing to write home about, so I do not see McCaffrey lighting the world on fire running the ball. Where I can see him having success is through the air.
Last week, McCaffrey led the Panthers with six catches and nine targets. No other Carolina player had more than three receptions and five targets. That’s no coincidence. The Panthers want to get this guy in space, and if they cannot do it on the ground, they will be looking for him constantly as a receiver. The Falcons have struggled with versatile backs in the receiving game before. They do again in this one, as McCaffrey provides the lone bright spot for the Carolina offense.