The last time the Atlanta Falcons faced their NFC South rival Carolina Panthers, the Falcons were on the wrong side of the win column, thanks in part to great play from the Carolina receivers.
The rematch between the division foes takes place at 8:20 p.m today and the Falcons will have a chance to avenge their loss. In order to do that, Atlanta must do a better job containing the Panthers' receiving corps.
Carolina wideouts Robby Anderson (eight catches, 112 yards) and D.J. Moore (four catches, 93 yards, touchdown) absolutely dominated the Falcons secondary back on Oct. 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons' secondary tandem of Isaiah Oliver, A.J. Terrell, Keanu Neal and Kendall Sheffield and others were no match for Anderson and Moore that day. And to make matters worse, even running back Mike Davis had a good game receiving, tallying 60 yards and a touchdown.
Carolina looks to keep the duo of Anderson and Moore on a roll. The two receivers combined for 167 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-24 road loss Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater only missed five passes while passing for 254 yards and was sacked once.
The wild card in the matchup will be Panthers wideout Curtis Samuel, who can be a threat. He was actually a threat in the run game against the Falcons on Oct. 11, running for a key first down during the game-winning drive.
The Falcons have to guard against the sixth-ranked pass offense and it won't be easy as Atlanta is the 31st in the league in passing yards allowed per game (341).
Sunday, the Falcons allowed 340 yards to Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, including 59 yards and a touchdown to tight end T.J. Hockenson. The good news for the Falcons is the Panthers don't use the tight end much, favoring to throw to the running backs out of the backfield.
Davis hurt the Falcons two weeks ago and if the secondary isn't careful, he could hurt them again. And if Carolina decides to activate running back Christian McCaffrey, Atlanta's secondary will definitely be challenged.
Atlanta safety Neal led the team with 10 solo tackles, and if he can force some turnovers and the others on the back end can contain Anderson and Moore, the Falcons will have a chance to win. But unless the Falcons secondary made the necessary changes in the past three days, the Carolina receivers will help them get another victory over the Falcons.