Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/2/13
The Carolina Panthers are gaining momentum and proving that they have not given up on the idea of making it into the playoffs. The 4-3 Panthers are ranked 2nd in the NFC South, behind the 6-1 New Orleans Saints. Both, the Panthers and the Saints are 4-1 in their last five games. Third down conversions will once again be the Panthers' key to victory.  The Panthers' offense converted 5 of 7 3rd downs in just the first half in their game against the winless, Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday night. They will need to continue this trend in order to be victorious again this week.Panthers' third-year QB, Cam Newton, will need to continue to show the relaxed, unrushed composure shown in last week's game against the Bucs. Newton has shown more patience and has depended more on two very capable wide receivers, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn. Both, Ginn and LaFell have improved with running the route, no longer having to depend on just their speed and who can forget, the ever present, Steve Smith?   The 2-5 Atlanta Falcons will have their hands full against the ever improving Panthers' defense.  Atlanta Falcons QB, Matt Ryan, will struggle to stay on his feet with defensive ends, Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson rushing him. Although Ryan is quite a QB, racking up 656 yards last year in the two meeting against the Panthers, he does not have much in the way of help this season with an unorganized offensive line that has been plagued with injuries. The Panthers' defensive will have to step up their game in order to keep Ryan from finding his stride.The Carolina Panthers' defensive ends, Hardy and Johnson will dominate the Falcons offense.  Matt Ryan will be rushed, sacked and intercepted, struggling to even get out of the pocket. Johnson and Hardy have already racked up an impressive 11 sacks, combined thus far this season.This should be an interesting game to watch but the Panthers should have an easy win if they play to their potential.  
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