The Panthers play their division rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. A win could propel the team's playoff hopes higher than they have been in five long seasons.
Here are a few key stories about the Falcons...
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution updates the Falcons injuries...
The Falcons had 10 players, including eight prospective starters, were listed on the injury report on Wednesday.
In addition to Baker, linebacker Akeem Dent (ankle), offensive linemen Joe Hawley (elbow), safety William Moore (hip), defensive tackle Peria Jerry (toe), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) and right guard Garrett Reynolds (knee) were limited in practice.
Wide receiver Roddy White (ankle/hamstring), running back Jason Snelling (ankle) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh) did not practice.
The Falcons are a crippled team at the moment. Roddy White has missed two consecutive games and is now limited to only running on the sidelines. I do not expect to see him on the field on Sunday. With Julio Jones out for the year the Falcons have limited options at wide receiver.
AJC also says the Falcons defense is on the spot this Sunday....
Nolan will speak to the defense today about his 5 critical factors to winning the game, which are: points, takeaways, red zone, third down efficiency and quarterback rating.
The Falcons defense is much maligned and looking for vindication from Cam Newton. The Panthers offensive line cannot overlook the struggling Falcons. I expect to see late hits and extra contact on Cam early and often. This game may look the Rams game look like a friendly hug.
ESPN says the Falcons may want to avoid trash talking...
"He’s an extremely competitive player, and if you’re good enough to back up what you say when you’re around him, be ready,’’ Nolan said, "because he’s going to give it his best effort. He’s one of the fiercest competitors, I think, in the NFL.
"That little guy ... and you don’t like to inspire guys that are already inspired. It’s not a good move. So hopefully, they don’t learn their lesson in a bad way. I would think they’d be smart enough. So we’ll see.’’
Smart of Falcons Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan to warn against his unit trash talking Steve Smith. He has been around long enough to know when his players will be on the losing end of that battle.