Looking for their third straight NFC South win, the Atlanta Falcons face the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
Atlanta clinched their division and a playoff spot by throttling the New Orleans Saints 23-13 last week with the defense picking off quarterback Drew Brees five times.
Quarterback Matt Ryan went 18-for-33 for 165 yards and a touchdown, while running back Michael Turner rushed for 83 yards a score.
Despite the interceptions, Atlanta’s defense did give up 436 total yards, but they are now three games ahead of every other team in the NFC.
The Falcons can move closer to the conference’s No. 1 seed against the reeling Panthers.
Carolina is on a 2-6 run after falling to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-21 last week. Quarterback Cam Newton had one of his best games of the season, going 15-for-27 for 232 yards and three touchdowns, while gaining 78 rushing yards.
In the last two games, Newton has accounted for seven Panther touchdowns.
Receiver Steve Smith had five receptions for 120 yards and a score, but seven penalties for a loss of 45 yards and a failure to stop the Chiefs in the redzone led to a loss.
The Panthers have been strong against the run this season, ranking eighth, but gave up 127 yards to Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.
Carolina can regain their composure against the run Sunday, as Atlanta running back Michael Turner is nursing a sore elbow but will play.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by FOX, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: Atlanta is favored by 3.5 points
Over/Under: 39 points
Prediction: Newton is capable of shredding Atlanta’s defense, and as long as he controls his turnovers Carolina has an excellent chance in this game. Look for Ryan and Newton to battle it out, with the Panthers winning late.
Predicted Score: Carolina 27, Atlanta 24