TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 4: Carolina Panthers At Atlanta Falcons

Panthers
Falcons
New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
Denver Broncos v Atlanta Falcons
Quarterback
The Panthers may have the most spectacular second-year quarterback in the league in Cam Newton, but he is anything but consistent. He not only had a poor game against the Giants – 0 TDs and 3 interceptions – but he lost his cool and has a lot of growing up to do.
Winner Unfortunately for Matt Ryan, his hot start this season is not going to prove anything to his critics. Not only does he have to sustain it during the season, he must play at an elite level when the Falcons get to the postseason. He is an accurate passer with excellent field vision.
Offense
The Panthers want to establish that they can run the ball in order to take some of the pressure off of Newton. DeAngelo Williams is capable of doing just that. Wide receiver Steve Smith is still a first-rate threat who can go deep and make the tough catch over the middle. Tight end Greg Olsen has glue-like hands.
Winner The Falcons have an array of weapons to help Ryan get the job done. Wide receiver Roddy White is strong, tough and consistent. Julio Jones has explosive speed and is improving. Tight end Tony Gonzalez turned back the clock in a 9-catch effort against the Chargers.
Defense
The Panthers barely showed up defensively in the loss to the Giants. Eli Manning torched them and the Giants ground game got well against them. Head coach Ron Rivera won’t put up with this much longer. Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is a big-time tackler, but he needs help from his teammates.
Winner The Falcons defense was on top of its game against the Chargers, shutting down quarterback Philip Rivers on his home turf. The Falcons depend on their speed, quickness and positioning on defense. Cornerback Asante Samuel is giving the Atlanta secondary a major lift while linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is a big hitter.
Special Teams
Winner The Panthers made a huge move to improve their punt- and kickoff-return coverage teams during the offseason and they held the Giants down in both areas. This could be a key advantage for Carolina throughout the season.
Placekicker Matt Bryant has a solid leg and head coach Mike Smith has confidence in him. The Falcons don’t figure to get many big plays from their special teams.

The Winner Is

Denver Broncos v Atlanta Falcons
Winner Falcons
3 out of 4

The Falcons are off to an eye-opening 3-0 start, and they look determined to take the NFC South and secure one of the top two spot in the NFC postseason rankings. There’s one problem to that kind of thinking. There’s still 13 games left in the regular season and the Falcons have the look of a team that may be peaking early. Still, they should be able to handle the enigmatic Panthers.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons signals to his team during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quarterback  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints hands off to Mark Ingram #22 during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New Orleans Saints

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  2. CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Danny Trevathan #59 and Akiem Hicks #96 of the Chicago Bears
stop Ryan Mathews #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles
at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Eagels defeated the Bears 29-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammates center Travis Frederick #72 and offensive guard La\'el Collins #71 after scoring a third quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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  3. PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Xavier Grimble #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his touchdown with Ben Roethlisberger #7 in the first quarter during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on September 18, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles hands off the football to Ryan Mathews #24 in the first half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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