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Panthers vs Falcons Week 10 preview: 5 more questions with the Falcoholic

Oh look, these guys again. This will be a game.

NFL: NOV 06 Chargers at Falcons
The probable MVPs of Thursday Night Football this week
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to Week 10 of the 2022 NFL Season where the Carolina Panthers are set to host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football in what will be their only prime time event of the year. This is our weekly series talking to the local experts on each team in an attempt to glean some inside information on an unfamiliar team. If you came here to read about how Marcus Mariota and Cordarrelle Patterson are expected to perform this week then, hoo buddy, are you in the wrong place.

The Atlanta Falcons are far from an unfamiliar team and so instead of digging into the nitty and the gritty on their current roster for the second time in 12 days I chose to take a wider look at the hapless, some might say cursed, nature of their franchise and then apply those observations back to their still employed head coach. In other words, come enjoy some gentle ribbing of our mild mannered neighbors to the south. They earned it, after all.

Can y’all stop playing weird games? I’m asking because I am genuinely curious if the Falcons are capable of playing a different brand of football.

It doesn’t seem like it. We’ve now had two absolutely crazy finishes in a row, with the Falcons coming out on top in the first one and losing in embarrassing fashion in the second one. Considering this is Thursday Night Football, I doubt the streak will be broken this week. Atlanta’s style of football lends itself to close games, but both sides of the ball are so inconsistent that a certain degree of wild variation seems inevitable.

Is the Falcons inability to ever play a normal game of football a reflection on the coaching staff or just a fact of life in year three of their reboot?

I think the coaching staff is trying their best to put a normal, competitive football team on the field. In theory, building an offense around a strong, consistent rushing attack and deep play-action shots should be relatively low-risk. But when you have a massive talent deficit on defense and a hot-and-cold QB under center, you’re going to get a lot of wild outcomes. So I think it’s more on the personnel at this point.

I’d like to say that Panthers fans are familiar with the Falcons after playing them just a week and a half ago, but “stable” isn’t exactly how I would describe the Falcons roster. Who is left that is healthy since we last played and what significant departures have we missed?

The Falcons have their starting safety duo back, as Jaylinn Hawkins returned to the lineup against Los Angeles. It seems unlikely AJ Terrell will play this week, and even if he could, I think it would be smarter to give him the “mini bye” to continue to rehab. Atlanta lost their starting left guard, Elijah Wilkinson, for at least a month on IR—and the backup, Matt Hennessy, got injured against the Chargers. So you’ll see Colby Gossett out there this week, which worked out fine for Atlanta when he had to fill in early in the season. Otherwise, this could be the potential debut for trade addition CB Rashad Fenton. Practice squad call-up Cornell Armstrong has been a massive liability as a starter, and you have to think Fenton will get on the field as soon as he’s able.

The Falcons ceded the lead in the NFC South to the Bucs with an incredible loss to the Los Angeles Chargers this week, but no team in this division is anything close to good. Who is your pick, with eight games left to play, to actually end up with the division title this year?

The Bucs should probably remain the favorites because they have the best roster, but they’ve been so...mediocre this season. Still, the rest of the division has also been mediocre at best. I think if the Falcons win on Thursday Night Football, they’ve got a realistic shot at the division title with a 2-2 divisional record and a chance to even out the tiebreaker against the Bucs in Week 17. If Atlanta falls here, it’s probably Tampa Bay’s division to lose.

Speaking of picks, the Falcons are only -2.5 point favorites against the Panthers this week, per DraftKings Sportsbook. Given all of the things that we haven’t learned about these two teams in the last two weeks, why do you think anybody would ever bet money on either the Falcons or the Panthers?

Bettors who are gluttons for punishment might enjoy betting on this game. That’s the only reason I can think of. On that note, though, I do think the Falcons find a way to win this one. They’re addicted to being .500, no more, no less. But this will likely be a slopfest of the highest order in prime time, exactly what we all expect from Thursday Night Football.