CHARLOTTE – It's a quick turnaround and a familiar opponent for the Panthers this week.
Carolina (2-7) hosts the Falcons (4-5) in a Thursday night matchup just one game removed from a heartbreaking overtime contest in Atlanta on Oct. 30. The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. in Bank of America Stadium on Amazon Prime.
Atlanta improved its record in the all-time series to 35-20 after the Panthers weren't able to finish off a comeback late in Week 8. The Panthers are 12-15 against the Falcons in Charlotte.
Carolina is coming off a dismal performance across the board in its 45-21 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday. Facing the Falcons off a short week gives the Panthers a shot to move forward from the negativity more quickly, while Atlanta hopes to push back toward the top of the NFC South after losing that spot after Week 9, when the Buccaneers pulled ahead by beating the Rams.
Here's what to know about the Falcons:
COMING OFF A LOSS TO LA
The Falcons played another close game against Los Angeles on Sunday but fell to the Chargers, 20-17, failing to capitalize on late opportunities.
Atlanta started strong and led 10-0 midway into the second quarter. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Austin Ekeler started surging minutes before halftime and took a 14-10 lead into the break.
Things started getting away from the Falcons in the fourth quarter when kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 50-yard field goal attempt that would've offered some more insurance to the Falcons' 17-14 lead with 12:17 left in the game.
The Chargers responded to Koo's miss with a field goal drive of their own and tied the game at 17 with over five minutes left. The Falcons got the ball back with a chance to retake the lead, but quarterback Marcus Mariota missed Kyle Pitts and Drake London on the ensuing drive, going three-and-out and giving the Chargers just enough time to piece together a four-minute field goal drive that sealed a win.
The Falcons couldn't capitalize on one more opportunity with under a minute left in the game when Rashaan Evans forced an Ekeler fumble inside the Atlanta 20-yard line. Ta’Quon Graham brought the ball back to midfield before he dropped it on the recovery, and Chargers tackle Matt Feiler fell on the ball to help set up for Los Angeles' eventual game-winning field goal.
Mariota was largely off the mark against Los Angeles, finishing the day at 12-of-23 passing for 129 yards. He added 24 yards on five carries but never broke free on a long scramble as he did against the Panthers in Week 8.
PATTERSON IS BACK
The Falcons will have a crucial part of their run-heavy offense back for their second matchup with Carolina, as lead running back Cordarrelle Patterson returned in Week 9 against the Chargers.
The Rock Hill, S.C.-native paced Atlanta with two 100-yard games against the Saints and Seahawks before he ended up on injured reserve for four weeks with a knee injury.
In his return to the field, Patterson finished the Chargers game with 44 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns, adding a physical complement to Tyler Allgeier, who put up 99 yards on 10 attempts against Los Angeles, including a long 44-yard rush in the Falcons' first drive.
FALCONS HAVE NFC SOUTH HOPES IN THE PICTURE
The division is still within reach for the Falcons, who held the top spot in the NFC South after defeating the Panthers in Week 8.
Atlanta and Tampa Bay have matching 4-5 records, but the Bucs have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Falcons have the division on their mind as they look to sweep Carolina this year, and Atlanta safety Richie Grant, who totaled 11 tackles against the Chargers, knows what's at stake.
"We can't linger too long," Grant told the Falcons’ team website after losing to the Chargers. "We have a big division game ahead on Thursday night. And it's a must-win."
Carolina is 21-35 all-time against Atlanta dating all the way back to 1995.