Atlanta Falcons Face Undefeated Carolina Panthers In Bid To End Losing Streak

Atlanta Falcons Face Undefeated Carolina Panthers In Bid To End Losing Streak

Division rivals heading in different directions meet at Bank of America Stadium.

Harry Harris

If you've watched football recently, you would know the Atlanta Falcons (6-6, third in the NFC South) and Carolina Panthers (12-0, NFC South winners) are heading in opposite directions.

After a 5-0 start, Atlanta is 1-6 since and are currently on a five game losing streak. Meanwhile, Carolina remain the NFL's only undefeated team at 12-0 and have hopes of an undefeated season. The Falcons are yet to win a division game this season, while the Panthers have already won the division.

Injury Report:

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons will stick with kicker Shayne Graham for the rest of the season as veteren Matt Bryant was placed on season-ending IR with a quad injury. Nose tackle Paul Soliai, a key component of Atlanta's run defense, will miss Sunday's matchup with a calf injury.

Safeties Ricardo Allen (shin) and Kemal Ishmael (shoulder) are probable for the divisional game. Wide receivers Julio Jones (knee) and Devin Hester (toe) are also expected to play, alongside guard Chris Chester (shoulder) and tight ends Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and Jacob Tamme (shoulder).

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are mostly healthy heading into the final stretch of the season, with just Charles Tillman (knee) and Brenton Bersin (groin) expected to miss out on Sunday.

A host of Panthers have been given the probable tag, among them are Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart and Thomas Davis. All are seemingly locked in to start against Atlanta.

Key Matchups:

Julio Jones - Josh Norman: Arguably the most exciting WR-CB matchup of the season, these two will be at it all day. Jones is the NFL's leading receiver in yards (1338) and in receptions (102) while Norman has confirmed his place as one of the league's best defensive backs. In their two meetings last season, Norman kept Jones in check with the superstar wideout registering under 60 yards on both occasions. This is the biggest 1 vs 1 matchup of the season.

Greg Olsen - Falcons Linebackers: It's safe to say the Atlanta Falcons struggle against tight ends. They've allowed six touchdowns and 668 yards to opposing tight ends this season, including the likes of Benjamin Watson and Cameron Brate. This week they face the the league's second most productive tight end and Cam Newton's favorite target, Greg Olsen.

Matt Ryan - Panthers Defense: Matt Ryan has struggled more than ever this season. A solid QB usually, he's failed to impress anyone this season and faces the third best defense in the NFL. Ryan's thrown six picks in his last three games, 13 in total this season. Carolina's defense is elite and are almost guaranteed an interception this week.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers 31-24 Atlanta Falcons

Carolina are a very good football team, especially at home. Despite the potential of this Atlanta team, the Panthers should move to 13-0 on the year. The game will be decided on how Matt Ryan plays if the Falcons defense can keep it close.