Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 9/30/12

Right now, Matt Ryan is head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL in the MVP race. Granted, they’ve only played three games but it seems like he has refocused and started utilizing all of his weapons surrounding him on offense. Cam Newton, on the other hand, has struggled mightily thus far in 2012. With his Panthers off to a 1-2 start and coming off of an embarassing loss at the hands of the New York Giants, Newton needs to prove he is not in early stages of a sophomore slump. Even if the Panthers fall to Atlanta, Newton must put points on the board. Carolina’s offense has been mediocre at best this season and even a hard fought game in a losing effort would be better than another ugly defeat.

What Carolina Must Do in Order to Win This Game

It needs to be a total team effort from the Panthers tomorrow if they have any hope of winning this game. The defense cannot expect Cam Newton to bail them out and, in the same regard, Newton cannot assume his defense is going to step up and shut down the Falcons’ passing attack. Everyone on Carolina needs to play an above average game. From the offensive line to the safeties. As of right now, the Panthers lone win comes against a winless, turmoil-laden Saints team. Not exactly impressive.Their losses have come against a decent Tampa Bay squad and a banged up Giants club. Moving to 2-0 in the division while climbing back to .500 could prove to be a turning point for the Panthers at the quarter mark of the season. They need to treat this game as if their season was on the line (which it is not in the least). Allowing the Falcons to get to 4-0 while the rest of the division is 2-2 or worse is a tough hole to dig this early. Might as well start making up some ground now.

What Atlanta Must Do in Order to Win This Game

The Falcons’ offense has been the best in the NFL through the first three weeks of the 2012 season. After dismantling the Chiefs, the Falcons whooped on the Broncos before handling the Chargers. I’m sure the AFC West is counting their blessings that the Falcons are not in the division, at least this year. Now, the Falcons return to Atlanta for their second home game of the season to face their first divisional opponent. Carolina’s defense has been less than stellar to say the least this season. Matt Ryan, in front of his home crowd, should be able to do whatever he wants on offense all game long. For Atlanta, it will come down to their defense. Will the Brent Grimes injury ever catch up to them? Has Asante Samuel returned to the top tier cornerback of yesteryear? Will John Abraham drunkenly wander into a crime scene for the halftime entertainment? These are questions that need answering and I fear only two of the three will become more clear come Monday morning. (Personally, I’m pulling for the latter more than the former).

Final Prediction

38-21 Atlanta. I love the Panthers. I really do. In fact this marks the first time I’ve picked against them all season. But my eyes do not deceive me. Until Newton shakes off his struggles, the Panthers’ defense plays a solid 60 minutes, and Ron Rivera proves to me that he trusts his running game, I can’t pick the Panthers all willy-nilly. Just isn’t my style. Besides, other than the Texans and Cardinals, no team is playing better than Atlanta as of right now. The Falcons will remain undefeated and Ryan will continue his MVP level of play for at least one more week.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter reacts to parole board member wearing Chiefs tie at OJ Simpson’s hearing

Jourdan Lewis will miss start of camp for domestic abuse trial

Vick 'truly sorry' for comments about Kaepernick

NFL owners pushing for Ezekiel Elliott suspension?

Report: Derrick Rose in ‘serious talks’ to join Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Giants co-owner: Kaepernick is not being blackballed

Report: Lakers wanted to sign D-Wade if Bulls bought him out

Report: Bell has no plans to miss regular season games

OJ Simpson could cash in on signing autographs if paroled

Report: If Rockets land Melo, LeBron could join him in 2018

Le'Veon Bell wants to be paid like 'a No. 1 RB and No. 2 WR'

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

Every NFL team’s biggest question as training camps start

Box Score 7/20: Nothing but Nolan

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

Every MLB team's biggest need at the trade deadline

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

Box Score 7/19: The shadow of the trade deadline begins to fall over baseball

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

Box Score 7/18: Burying a glove is fine until you have a zombie glove in the outfield

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

The 'Youth in baseball is cyclical' quiz

The unexpected rise of the Connecticut Sun

Getaway Day: Class is back in session

The 'Safeties in numbers' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker