Atlanta Falcons Team Grades: Falcons Clinch NFC South

The Atlanta Falcons faced off with their division rival Carolina Panthers. The Falcons entered the game in the hunt for a first-round bye and the NFC South crown. While Carolina put up a tough fight, Atlanta surged and soundly beat the Panthers, 33-16. As a result, the Falcons ended the day by clinching the NFC South, since Atlanta won and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the New Orleans Saints.  

Offense: A+

Matt Ryan was on fire against the Carolina Panthers’ defense. He completed his first 10 pass attempts and finished by completing 81 percent of his 33 pass attempts for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He also got Julio Jones back, who responded by catching four balls for 60 yards in the game. What is most impressive about the Falcons’ offense is that they added new playmakers Joshua Perkins and D.J. Tialavea, who each caught their first touchdown.

Additionally, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined for 20 carries and 143 yards, with Coleman breaking off a 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Atlanta offense continues to string together impressive performances.  

Defense: A

There were two more firsts in this game for the Falcons. Brian Poole and Jalen Collins each recorded an interception in the game, the first for them as well. The Falcons have not played the best defense this season, but they really limited Cam Newton and the Panthers’ passing game Saturday. Newton only completed 41 percent of his passes for just 198 yards and one touchdown to go along with the two interceptions. While Greg Olsen became the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 1,000 yard seasons, that was it for the Panthers’ highlights. Jonathan Stewart ran for only 50 yards in the game.

Special Teams: B

Matt Bryant missed one field goal today, but hit four-of-five for the game. His longest came from 51 yards out and his miss was from 30 yards. Outside of the field goal kicking, the special teams weren’t really instrumental besides a big 47-yard kick return from Fozzy Whittaker of the Panthers.

Coaching: A

The Atlanta Falcons had a tough matchup against Carolina, but the coaches planned a perfect game plan and beat Carolina easily. They were able to shut down Cam Newton and the Carolina running game. They are executing at just the right time. 

Up Next:
The Atlanta Falcons reached 10 wins on the season and their final game comes against the New Orleans Saints in week 17. 

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