Falcons next opponent: What's changed with the Carolina Panthers

A look at what's changed with the Carolina Panthers since the Week 5 meeting 

The Atlanta Falcons (1-6) hit the road on a short week to take on the Carolina Panthers (3-4) on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers and Falcons are both coming off losses in Week 7 and will be looking to get back on track. In the Week 5 meeting between these teams, Carolina's balanced offense posed problems for Atlanta's defense. The Falcons will be looking to move on from their heartbreaking loss to the Lions against the Panthers this week.

Here's a look at what's changed with the Panthers since the Week 5 meeting:

Teddy Bridgewater keeps getting better

Carolina's starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been everything coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady could have wanted. Bridgewater has improved each week and without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey in the lineup, his impact has been magnified even more so.

Bridgewater is coming off a near perfect performance in the Panthers' 27-24 loss to the Saints where he finished 23-of-28 for 254 yards with two touchdowns. Carolina ranks No. 11 in passing offense, averaging 263.7 yards per game.

Carolina has one of the top wide receivers in the game

In addition to Bridgewater, the biggest acquisition for the Panthers in the offseason was wide receiver Robby Anderson who ranks No. 2 in receiving yards with 640 yards. In the first meeting between Atlanta and Carolina, Anderson had eight catches for 112 yards. He continues to improve his chemistry with Bridgewater and their play is a big reason for the way the Panthers are playing on offense.

Christian McCaffrey could make his return this week

The All-Pro offensive weapon has missed five games for the Panthers with an ankle injury. Reports say McCaffrey could return this week against the Falcons. Carolina is coming off one of its worst rushing performances in years as they accumulated just 37 yards on the ground in the loss to the Saints. The Panthers are hoping McCaffrey can provide a boost to their run game, one that was very successful in the last meeting with the Falcons. Running back Mike Davis rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries in the Week 5 win.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions with top photos from inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Week 7.

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