Know Your Foe: Atlanta Falcons

Todd Gurley

The Falcons (0-4) have found themselves on the wrong side of history again this season. Super Bowl 51 has been in the rear view for a while, but the memes came back after Atlanta became the first team to blow TWO 15-point fourth quarter leads in the same season.

And they did it in back-to-back weeks against Dallas and Chicago.

Monday night's loss at Green Bay didn't have the same drama, but surely some of the same pain as Atlanta fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1999.

Matt Ryan

Airing It Out

Atlanta ranks fifth in the NFL in net passing yards with 294.3 per game. Their 26.5 points per game is right in the middle of the pack. Until Monday night, Atlanta had no trouble moving the ball and finding the end zone.

But that potent offense sputtered Monday when Calvin Ridley had five targets and no catches, and Julio Jones left early after re-aggravating a hamstring injury. Which leads to...

Julio Jones

Will Julio play?

For the second straight week, the Panthers face a team with a Top-5 receiver and a murky injury status. Last week, Arizona's DeAndre Hopkins did not practice with an injured ankle and was questionable. He ultimately played but had just 41 yards receiving.

This week, Julio Jones will be the name to watch with a short week to recover. He hurt his hamstring in the preseason, tweaked it in Week 2, missed Week 3 and was limited during the week of practice leading up to the Green Bay game. He had four catches in the first half before being ruled out at halftime.

Jones has 82 catches for 1,390 receiving yards and six touchdowns in 15 career games against the Panthers, so his status will be one to watch all week.

Holes in the secondary

Atlanta has allowed 341.5 passing yards per game and 34.5 points per game, both ranking second to last in the NFL. In the fourth quarter alone, teams have averaged 12.3 points and 118.5 passing yards against the Falcons.

Starting safeties Keanu Neal (hamstring) and Ricardo Allen (elbow) both missed Monday's game, along with edge rusher Takk McKinley (groin). And now there's a fear safety Damontae Kazee tore his Achilles against the Packers. 

The Falcons have had two interceptions and five total takeaways, but when teams can move the ball so quickly on a banged-up secondary, they are going to need more.

Dangerous Place

While the Falcons are still winless in 2020, this will be a very dangerous matchup for Carolina. Only seven teams have started 0-5 since 2015 and the Falcons had high expectations entering the season. They've had a ton of bad bounces and those will begin turning eventually.

It also doesn't help that the Panthers have only won twice in their last 12 games at Atlanta. The Panthers are still looking for their first win in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Carolina is 18-32 all-time against Atlanta.

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