If there was one bright spot last week it was the defense, but that really isn't saying a lot. Saying the Panthers offense spotted the Eagles 14 points and then special teams allowing the KO return, that was 21 points right there. So when the defense was on the field they only allowed 17 points, which is respectable.
We all know the troubles the offense is facing, but how will the defense play this week. It could be argued (although it is early in his career) that Matt Ryan is a better QB than McNabb. Michael Tuner is a completely different RB than Westbrook but they are both clearly a threat when given the ball, yet Turner is more of a threat up the middle (our weakness). With the addition of Tony Gonzales at TE, the Falcons have the better pass catching TE. I would give the Eagles an the edge at WR however. I list these to point out that in total our D should be able to withstand the Falcons offense. Here are the match-ups I'll be watching when our D is on the field.
1. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez vs Panthers S Quinton Teal
The SLB and Safeties usually are given the responsibility of covering the tight ends. With Chris Harris sidelined again this week Teal will get the start. His first game is going against the NFL best pass catching TE. Last week Gongo has 78 yards and 1 touchdown on only 5 catches. Matt Ryan is very comfortable with his new target and it could get ugly if Teal doesn't play well.
2. Falcons RB Michael Turner vs Panthers DT
There is no question Turner is a power runner. Our already thin DT position now had Nick Hayden as questionable for Sunday. Louis Leonard and Ra'Shon Harris better be ready to play. Turner isn't easy to take down so the DT will need to get double teamed to open the tackling lanes for the LB.
Peppers stat line: 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defended, and a few hurries. Really not that bad. Not earth shattering but good. As I said last week, fans will be all over him this year because of his salary and I am no different. I will expect him to play at a high level. Until he does this for several games in a row he will be on my list. I would love to see a couple of sacks but a game like last week is definitely in the right direction.
none Special Teams
It hasn't been a strength of the team in quite some time, but through the preseason and then the first game this year, the kickoff and punt return coverage units are definitely a liability this year. They will need to keep the Falcons out of the endzone to give the offensive and defensive a chance to win.