Atlanta already has a commanding lead going into the 4th week of the season. They have a chance to extend that even further with a home game against Carolina on Sunday. At this point in the season, Matt Ryan has looked remarkably good. With Julio Jones and Roddy White having great seasons as well, the offense has been firing on all cylinders. Carolina hasn’t had as good of fortune. Cam Newton has struggled this year with a 2:5 TD to TO ratio. When Jonathan Stewart hasn’t played this year, the Panthers are 0-2. He has been practicing this week, so it is a pretty shot that he will be in come Sunday.
The Panthers are coming into this game on extra days rest after playing last Thursday. They will need all they can get to find any advantage they can get against Atlanta. The only way I see them coming close on this game is if they can win a shootout. The Falcons defense doesn’t have great star power, but they have been very strong, especially the last two weeks. They forced Peyton Manning into 3 interceptions two weeks ago, then allowed just 3 points to Philip Rivers and the Chargers. That is some solid defense against two very good Quarterbacks. That doesn’t bode well for Cam.
The key to the Panthers should be their running game. With Stewart back in the rotation, they should see some increased reps. They just better hope that they don’t fall behind too long. To be honest, however, I don’t see a way Carolina can win this game. Top WR Steve Smith started yelling at Newton after he was seen sobbing on the sidelines in their last loss. That doesn’t exactly rerpresent a team that is well structured at this point. Add the fact that they are facing one of just 3 teams with an undefeated record in their own home, and it doesn’t look good for the Panthers.