When the Falcons and Panthers play on Sunday, the injury situations will be a key factor in who will end up winning the game. The Falcons are pretty healthy heading into the game, but the Panthers have some issues to work through.
Atlanta has a couple of starters on the sidelines due to injuries or suspensions while the Panthers face the same issue. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Panther defense is looking like they are pretty healthy, but the offense is banged up.
The Panthers have some key starters on offense injured in starting left tackle Michael Oher—who came in last minute on Friday with concussion related symptoms—and starting running back Jonathan Stewart. Oher’s replacements would either be Mike Remmers, who normally starts at right tackle, Donald Hawkins, who is pretty bad, or Daryl Williams, who is a right tackle by trade.
To replace Stewart, the Panthers are going to try and lean on the combination of Cameron Artis-Payne—who has 47 yards on 12 carries this year—and Fozzy Whitaker—who has 135 yards on 24 carries this year. Without Stewart and Oher, the Falcons will be pressed to make the Panthers have a worse running game than they did in 2015.
Outside of their starters, the Panthers are missing a lot of depth players who are fringe roster talents and a solid offensive guard reserve who is suspended in Chris Scott. They are also missing their third member of their defensive end rotation in Ryan Delaire and third member of their defensive tackle rotation in Vernon Butler.
With Charles Johnson banged up and potentially not playing, the Falcons might have a shot at holding off the defensive line if they can wear them down early. Falcons RT Ryan Schraeder normally has issues against Johnson, but he was solid in the second matchup last season and might have an advantage against the former Georgia end this week.
The Falcons are in much better shape than the Panthers as you can see. Despite missing starting nickel Jalen Collins, Brian Poole has been the starting nickel in his stead and has performed positively. Poole still has some growing to do, but his easiest test of the year comes this week against Philly Brown and Devin Funchess.
They are also missing a pair of linebackers in De’Vondre Campbell and Paul Worrilow. Campbell was the starting weak-side linebacker in the first game, and his play against tight ends has been sorely missed versus the Raiders and Saints. Worrilow isn’t starting anymore due to Deion Jones’ solid play, but had proven to be a solid special teams player during the first two weeks.
On top of that, the Falcons are missing later in the line-up players like Akeem King and Devin Fuller. The only real one that would factor in is King. King did a great job covering Greg Olsen in the second matchup last season and will be sorely missed unless the Falcons can figure out the ideal guy to cover him.