HomeFootball DirtPanthers Aim to Contain Falcons' Versatile Rookie Running Back Bijan Robinson

Panthers Aim to Contain Falcons’ Versatile Rookie Running Back Bijan Robinson

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ATLANTA (6-7) at CAROLINA (1-12)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox.

BETTING LINE: Falcons by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Atlanta 4-9; Carolina 2-9-2

SERIES RECORD: Falcons lead 36-21.

LAST MEETING: Falcons won 24-10 on Sept. 10, 2023, in Atlanta.

LAST WEEK: Falcons lost to Buccaneers 29-25; Panthers lost to Saints 28-6.

FALCONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (15), RUSH (6), PASS (21), SCORING (24).

FALCONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (15), PASS (9), SCORING (12).

PANTHERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (30), RUSH (21), PASS (31), SCORING (30).

PANTHERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (4), RUSH (19), PASS (3), SCORING (31).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Falcons minus-4; Panthers minus-8.

FALCONS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Bijan Robinson has 396 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns over the past four games. He totaled 63 yards from scrimmage and a score in Atlanta’s Week 1 home win over Carolina. The Panthers have struggled at times against the run and Robinson’s speed and quickness is of concern to Carolina. Panthers interim head coach Chris Tabor said stopping Robinson will be a key to the team’s defensive game plan, calling him an “explosive, physical, downhill runner.”

PANTHERS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Chuba Hubbard has run for 191 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games and is currently Carolina’s best offensive threat on a team that struggles to throw the football. The Panthers average just 165.7 yards per game through the air so Hubbard represents the best chance at moving the ball.

KEY MATCHUP: Falcons pass rush vs. Panthers OL: Rookie QB Bryce Young has been sacked 48 times in 12 starts and has been under duress most of the season. His 37 throwaways are the most in the league. Atlanta has just 27 sacks this season, but its defense will surely be salivating when it faces Carolina’s porous offensive line.

KEY INJURIES: The Falcons have ruled out DT Kentavius Street (pectoral muscle), but hope to have DT David Onyemata (ankle) return after missing one game. LT Jake Matthews (knee) and RG Chris Lindstrom (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. C Drew Dalman (ankle) and right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee) did not play against Tampa Bay. The injury list also includes CB Jeff Okudah (ankle) and LB Nate Landman (knee). … The Panthers are likely to be without TE Ian Thomas (ankle sprain). OLB Brian Burns is also dealing with an ankle injury.

SERIES NOTES: The Falcons have dominated the overall series and won nine of the past 12 meetings. Atlanta is going for its first season sweep of the Panthers since 2019.

STATS AND STUFF: Robinson’s 1,110 scrimmage yards have made Falcons the first team in NFL history to have rookies with at least 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons, following TE Kyle Pitts in 2021 and RB Tyler Allgeier in 2022. … WR Drake London is enjoying a strong finish to his second season. London set career highs with 10 receptions for 172 yards against Tampa Bay last week. … QB Desmond Ridder also set a career high with 347 passing yards . … Allgeier ran for two touchdowns in Atlanta’s Week 1 win over Carolina. … S Jessie Bates ranks second among NFL defensive backs with 101 tackles. Bates has a career-high five interceptions. He had 10 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble in Atlanta’s Week 1 win over Carolina. … The Panthers are 0-4 in the NFC South … Carolina has been outscored 341-197 this season. … QB Bryce Young has yet to throw for 250 yards in 12 starts this season. … Young has been sacked 19 times in the past four games. … DE Derrick Brown became only third defensive player in NFL history to get 10-plus tackles, a quarterback hit and an interception last week against the Saints joining Mathias Kiwanuka (2011) and Michael Bankston (1995). … OLB Brian Burns had two sacks and a forced fumble in Week 1 against the Panthers. He has a tackle for a loss in seven of his past eight games. … The Panthers have a league-low nine takeaways this season. … Carolina has a minus-25 turnover differential over the past three seasons.

FANTASY TIP: Panthers WR Adam Thielen has cooled off significantly with only nine receptions for 101 yards over his past three games. Thielen had two receptions for 12 yards in the previous matchup against the Falcons.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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