Never again will the “regular” NFL officials be greeted with such glee as on this Sunday around the NFL. File it under the “Don’t Know What You Got Until It’s Gone” section of life.
How long until somebody complains to these wonderful men? Oh, I’d give it until at least about two minutes after the coin toss. When Steve Smith was asked whether he would complain about any flags once the regular refs returned, he replied: “Only when it’s a call against me.”
The Panthers have lost six of their past seven games to Atlanta, including the last four in a row. During that stretch, they’ve had all sorts of problems with powerful running back Michael Turner. But Turner is one of the few Falcons not performing at an extremely high level right now – he’s averaging a modest 3.7 yards per carry. If, say, Jonathan Stewart is more effective than Turner Sunday, that would increase the Panthers’ chances to win substantially.
The weirdest thing I ever saw in the Georgia Dome? It was in 1998, when the Falcons scored 21 points in 48 seconds against Carolina on their way to a 51-23 win. Think how hard that is to do – three touchdowns in less than a minute. At one point, Muhsin Muhammad fumbled the ball with no one around him. A Falcon passing by picked it up and scored.
When you look at the statistics of Matt Ryan vs. Cam Newton so far this year, two numbers really jump out. Ryan’s TD/interception ratio is 8/1. Newton’s is 2/5.
I got the Panthers’ outcome right for the first time this season last week when I picked the Giants to beat Carolina. Both my weekly predictions and the Panthers’ record sit at a lousy 1-2.
My prediction Sunday: Atlanta 30, Carolina 16.