Finally, someone the Carolina Panthers can actually beat.
But will they?
The Atlanta Falcons and the Panthers have both won a total of three games this season, and somehow that hasn't knocked them out of contention in the NFC South, also known as the "Misery loves company" division.
The Panthers have a number of players -- quarterback Cam Newton and defensive end Charles Johnson being two prime examples -- who take a special joy in beating the Falcons because of their own Georgia roots. They did so twice last season (this picture of Newton comes from one of those wins).
The Falcons, though, have won a lot more recently than Carolina. They beat Tampa Bay a week ago. The Panthers haven't won since Oct.5th. It's been so long since Carolina won that a spacecraft landed on top of a comet in the meantime. Yes, we can land a spacecraft on a comet, but we still can't teach the Panthers' defensive backs to turn their heads when the ball is coming.
-- If both quarterbacks have 250-300 yard days and throw for multiple touchdowns, I won't be a bit surprised. Both of these pass defenses have all sorts of problems.
-- The ugliest statistic associated with the Panthers is also one of the simplest -- they have given up 281 points this season after giving up only 241 all last year. That's an average of 28.1 points per game. In retrospect, the most telling game the Panthers have played may have been that 37-37 tie against Cincinnati. The Bengals scored those 37 points, remember, without wide receiver A.J. Green.
-- Want to talk more about the Panthers? I will be at the Myers Park Public Library on Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. to talk about the team, answer questions and tell some of my favorite stories after covering the club for the past 20 seasons. It's free. Join us. Pre-registration is encouraged here.
-- Prediction time. I am 6-3-1 picking the Panthers' outcome this season after nailing the team's loss to Philadelphia last Monday night. This one, I believe, will be a shootout that turn outs better. My pick: Carolina 31, Atlanta 28.