Why the Falcons will beat the Panthers

I love the game we picked this week for our weekly NFL on FOX rivalry rant. In a Ron Pitts and Jim Mora special, it’s Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers hosting Matt Ryan and the Falcons in a huge game for the 7-5 Falcons. The hatred runs deep between these division rivals. Cam Newton’s had a magical rookie season. The Falcons are coming off of a brutal loss on the road in Houston to T.J. Yates and the Texans.

Atlanta seems ripe for an upset special.

Let’s get real.

There is absolutely no way the Atlanta Falcons, well-coached under Mike Smith, are going to go on a losing streak and go down to an inferior team on Sunday afternoon.

When these clubs got together earlier in the year, Michael Turner gashed the Carolina run defense for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

On Tuesday, Carolina learned that key rookie defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain are done for the season and have been placed injured reserve. The middle of the Panthers defensive line is now totally depleted. Assuming Falcons’ offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey remembers to dial up Turner at least 25 times, Atlanta is a lock to win against this undermanned, underwhelming, and overmatched Carolina defense. Do you realize in Turner’s career, his teams are 21-1 when he gets at least 23 carries? Chew on that nugget of domination, Pete Schrager. And Jerry Richardson might want to check the deed. It’s Turner who owns the Panthers. The running back has five 100-yard games in the past six meetings against the Panthers, averaging 109 rush yards per game against Carolina with 11 touchdowns. The Panthers defense is awful. The fundamentals are horrible. Without Jon Beason in the middle, there is no chance.

Turner isn’t the only problem for this embarrassing Panthers defense.

Tony Gonzalez had seven catches for 100 yards last week and the future Hall of Famer will put up similar numbers this week. Matt Ryan struggled last week against the Texans outstanding defense. But against the Carolina chumps, Ryan will be back to his “Matty Ice” form. Ryan has won three in a row against Carolina, recording a quarterback rating over 100 in the last two. Here’s your second nugget of domination Peter Schrager. The Falcons are 20-0 when Ryan has a quarterback rating of over 100. Did I mention Roddy White has six or more catches in the last four games against Carolina? This seems like a good time to mention it.

For the sake of fairness, I do think Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart can run on the Falcons run defense. But I see absolutely no way Carolina musters up enough to outscore the Falcons. Curtis Lofton, John Abraham and Thomas DeCoud have all come up huge against the Panthers in the past and will again on Sunday.

Atlanta keeps its wild card hopes alive with a 31-17 win in Carolina. Bag it, Peter Schrager.