When the Atlanta Falcons face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium, they may be doing so in hurricane-like conditions.
Hurricane Zeta, a category 2 hurricane, is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday evening and travel a course that will carry it through Georgia and North Carolina throughout the course of Thursday. Because the Panthers play in an open-air stadium, the Falcons are certainly making weather contingencies.
"Yes, we do take that into account and when we started on this we knew right when we started working on it that was a possibility," Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "The weather report has actually gotten better as the week has gone on. It was really bleak on Monday. It's gotten better, but we'll see when we get there."
As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for Charlotte, N.C., called for scattered thunderstorms and a 50 percent chance of rain at 8 p.m. ET. Showers could be expected throughout the course of the game, which would have an impact on even the simplest aspects of offense.
"That starts as basic as quarterback-center exchange," Koetter said. "Do you have to go more to the shotgun? Can you get the snap, the ball handling? Do you need more plays in certain parts of your game plan to account for weather?"
If the Falcons decide they need to protect the ball a bit more by leaning on their run game, this is far from the worst matchup for that. In their first meeting against the Panthers, Todd Gurley had his best performance since arriving in Atlanta, gaining 121 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.
And if they do want to take some chances through the air, the Falcons will have their top receiving option available as Julio Jones is set to play his first game against Carolina of the season.
Coming off a short week and seeking the team's second win of the season, interim head coach Raheem Morris is imploring the Falcons to impose their will on the Panthers. If they have to do that while also battling a hurricane, well, they will have a plan in place.