Welcome to the Sunday Morning Bloody Mary Panthers prediction post! The Panthers are surely huge underdogs in this game. We had hoped the Falcons would not have anything to play for but with their loss last week they still need a victory to hold off the Saints and secure the home field advantage throughout the NFC championship. Given that I'm not expecting the Falcons to sit their marquee players unless they should get ahead dramatically.
With that here are some things to look for in this game, taking the lead from a Panthers.com post:
1. Run First
"Last time they did run wild on us, so it will be a challenge," Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "We will key in and focus on it and try to get the job done."
It's cliche to say the Panthers need to run the ball but its the more solid thing they can do to stay in this game.
2. Take Care
On the game's first snap,Jonathan Stewart lost a fumble, setting up the Falcons to go just 29 yards to claim a 7-0 lead – a lead they never relinquished.
Let's hope the Panther RBs take better care of the ball this game.
ENJOY WITH ABSOLUT RESPONSIBILITY®
3. Bend, Don't Break
Carolina could take a cue from New Orleans last week, when the Saints successfully kept Atlanta's big playmakers in front of them. The Panthers haven't been as stingy on defense as the Saints this season, but they haven't been bad, either.
They certainly got to keep White from making big plays and keep Turner in check. Always easier said than done.
4. Big Finish
"If we get a couple of plays to go our way," Goodson said, "that could make the difference."
In particular we need QB Jimmy Clausen to continue his improved play by making some throws down field. He needs to protect the ball as he has been doing and hopefully improve his pocket awareness
Here's one I'm going to add:
5. The Fox Factor
The Panthers will hopefully be ready to play lights out one final time for their coach:
"It will be fun to go out there and give it our best, and if we win, send out Fox on a high note," left tackle
Jordan Gross said. "This game is big. It means a lot to the Falcons and it means a lot to us. We haven't had a lot of games that had a lot of weight on them, but this one does."
So let's hear your predictions Panther fans. I'd like to predict a Panther win but I don't want to jinx them.
Falcons 31 Panthers 14