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  1. Today the Panthers can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs should they defeat the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers can also clinch home field with an Arizona loss in Green Bay. The Falcons are still in the playoff hunt, but need some help. They first need to win out, starting today. Keys to Panthers Victory - Expect a different Falcons team. The Falcons were embarrassed two weeks ago at Bank of America Stadium. These are professional players who don't take kindly to such a thing. They will be more motivated this week. - Continue to shut down Julio Jones. Luckily, Jones is the type of player Josh Norman plays his best against. Larger receivers that are not used to being challenged for the ball. Hopefully, Norman can continue to blanket him as he did two weeks ago. - Cameron Artis-Payne. I liked what I saw out of the rookie last week. He needs to use that as a stepping stool on the way to improving this week. Not turning the ball over would be a good start. View full article
  2. Believe it or not, the Atlanta Falcons are still in the playoff hunt. The Falcons need to win out and hope for two Minnesota Viking losses. A long shot, but it could possibly happen. This means that on Sunday in Atlanta, the Carolina Panthers could both clinch home field throughout the playoffs and knock the Atlanta Falcons out of the playoffs. How great is that? I went over to the Falcons fan communities to gauge their feelings on the upcoming game. On Matt Ryan being fire up. Since that Matt Ryan outburst years ago, the Falcons are 1-5 vs the Panthers. I am not so sure they should be wishing for a return of a fired up Matt Ryan. On how to beat the Panthers Oh look, another "double Olsen and the Panthers offense is dead" comment. We have seen it every single week this season from opposing fan bases. Two weeks ago Greg Olsen only played a single half against the Falcons. The end result was a 38-0 behind the woodshed shellacking. Short memories these Falcons fans have. On Roddy White talking trash about Josh Norman .....fair enough. Norman is absolutely tasked with locking up receivers many times during games. He also does play zone, as does every single corner in the league. Holding Norman to a higher standard than literally every other corner in the league in an effort to agree with an asinine comment made by Roddy White.... sad. Of course, Corey Brown and Josh Norman responded to Roddy's comments on twitter themselves... Overall, Falcons fans are evenly split. Some want to win out and hope for a postseason. Others want to lose and improve draft position. Almost none are happy with their current coaching staff, especially offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. I doubt Shanahan is around next season, unfortunately. Sunday may possibly be the largest Georgia Dome takeover in NFC South history. Expect thousands of Panthers fans to once again make it feel like a home game as Falcons fans remain mostly indifferent. See you there. View full article
  3. With less than a month to go until NFL training camps open, I thought it may be helpful to take a look at the Carolina Panthers southern rivals and start a dialogue on their offseason changes. First up, Atlanta Falcons. Here are the important bullet points of the Falcons offseason... COACHING Atlanta has a new head coach. Those words should concern any Carolina Panthers fan who has paid attention to Ron Rivera's record against rookie head coaches. Adding insult to injury, the Falcons hired former Seattle DC Dan Quinn as Mike Smith's replacement at head coach. Quinn obviously has had success against the Panthers over the past two seasons. Panthers OC Mike Shula will have his work cut out for him. If Quinn can improve the Falcons defense in his first year, Atlanta could contend for the title in the NFC South. IN THE DRAFT The Falcons addressed their need for defensive improvement in the first two rounds of the draft. Falcons first round pick DE Vic Beasley should improve Atlanta's pass rush from day one. He was used mainly on the left side in Falcons workouts last month, but did switch to the right occasionally. Beasley's game is speed, how well the Panthers counter with Remmers and Oher remains to be seen. In the second round the Falcons selected CB Jalen Collins. This was a good value as many had Collins as a first round talent. Collins will most likely catch on quickly as he faces guys like Julio Jones in practice, helping him prepare to defense Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Collins was a good pick for the Falcons and should help them at depth initially, with Collins taking over a starting role later in the season. On the offensive side of the ball RB Tevin Coleman and WR (and Huddle favorite) WR Justin Hardy. Coleman could see increased playing time as the season progresses while Hardy looks to have already earned the #3 WR spot. Overall, Atlanta had a solid 2015 draft based on early reviews. FREE AGENCY The Falcons released a few names Panthers fans were used to seeing, Harry Douglas and Steven Jackson the most notable. The loss of these two players were addressed nicely in the draft. Negative impact should be minimal. OLB Brooks Reed was added from the Texans and could be a real impact player for the Falcons. How much did he benefit from playing with JJ Watt? We will soon see. Reed will not be playing behind anyone of Watt's caliber anytime soon in Atlanta. The Falcons extended S Charles Godfrey which is excellent news for the Panthers. Godfrey's best days are well behind him. The Falcons signed a couple of new tight ends, Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme. Could they be an adequate long term replacement for Tony Gonzalez? Clearly, Toilolo last season was not. OTHER TIDBITS Apparently, the Falcons are trying to move QB Matt Ryan out of the pocket more often. This is an interesting development to keep your eyes on. If the Falcons can give a few looks a game of Ryan rolling out of the pocket to throw it could change how aggressive the Panthers pass rush can be. CONCLUSION Like it or not, the Atlanta Falcons improved a good deal this offseason. Mike Smith was not a good head coach. This was obvious to anyone that watched "Hard Knocks" on HBO last year. Dan Quinn will bring a tougher more hard nosed attitude to the Falcons. What say you? View full article
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