Friday, December 26, 2014

My pick for Falcons-Panthers

Hi! Hope your holidays are going well and you are ready for a big Sunday.

Think you have never seen anything like this before for the Carolina Panthers, with a "win-and-you're-in" scenario dominating the storyline for the final week of the season?

Well, in fact you have -- but maybe you were younger or just not paying that much attention.

On the last day of the 2005 season, the Panthers were 10-5 but still needed to win to secure a playoff spot. Yes, it was a very different sort of season. They blew into Atlanta and whipped the Falcons, 44-11, giving them momentum for two straight playoff road wins as well (at the New York Giants and at Chicago) before a loss to Seattle in the NFC championship game.

On the other hand, on the last day of the 2004 season, the Panthers had rebounded from a horrid 1-7 start the year after their lone Super Bowl appearance to get to 7-8. They needed one more win to get in, against New Orleans at home. Then the Panthers stunk it up and lost 21-18.

So this has happened before, albeit not under these circumstances, where the winner of a game between two losing teams will win the NFC South.

-- If it comes down to a field goal, I would rely on Atlanta's Matt Bryant over Carolina's Graham Gano. Bryant is a machine. He hasn't missed from under 50 yards all season, and he's even hit seven of 10 from 50-plus. Gano, on the other hand, has had a couple of crucial misses this season, including two in the Falcons' 19-17 win over Carolina in November.

-- Best matchup Sunday? It has to be Atlanta Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, who has three straight 100-yard receiving games, against Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. Norman says Jones is a "Manimal," but Norman has been very good the past month and is the best chance the Panthers have at slowing down Jones.

-- Whichever team wins will almost certainly play Arizona in a home playoff game next Sunday. I can't think of a more favorable matchup, given the Cardinals' serious quarterback issues.

-- Prediction time. I am 9-5-1 picking the Panthers' outcome this season and have gotten it right the past two weeks.

Matt Ryan has been quietly very good this season -- 28 TDs and only 12 interceptions -- and the Panthers' ability or inability to rattle Ryan will determine the way this game goes. As for the Panthers, they need to run the ball well, which I think they will do. Cam Newton's ability to run in the red zone (see above picture for a previous score he had vs. Atlanta) will be key. My pick: Carolina 24, Atlanta 20.


KB said...

I hope Carolina don't let us down this time. Panthers plays better with a good team than a bad one. A case in point is the Browns-Panthers game last week. It was too scary watching at times during the game. They occasionally loose focus and allow their opponents to dictate the pace of the game sometimes. Lets hope and pray for a new years gift from the panthers. Go Panthers!!!

Anonymous said...

falcons by 40

FalconsSBbound said...

Lol funny Falcons 34 Panthers 13

Anonymous said...

lol Georgia Falcons without coach =p

GO PANTHERS, greetings from Argentina