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Falcons vs. Panthers: What this NFC South battle means and why it's important

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons begin division play Sunday with a matchup against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.

The Panthers are currently in second place in the NFC South and have also played one more game than Atlanta.

It's all about the division

Here are the current NFC South standings:

Divisional games mean a whole lot more than, say, non-conference games. Falcons coach Dan Quinn hammered that point home on Monday.

"Back at the beginning of the offseason, training camp, and even the regular season we put an emphasis on the division, and now we finally get back to do that," Quinn said. "They're special because you only get six of them, and this happens to be our first one. We're expecting a straight-up battle with them up in Charlotte this weekend."

What would a win mean?

The Falcons would improve to 5-3 and 1-0 in division play, and the Panthers would drop to 5-4 and 1-2 in the South. The Saints (5-2) host the Buccaneers (2-5) in another key divisional battle.

Not only would a win be significant in the division standings, but a second straight win would give the Falcons a chance to set the tone moving forward.

Atlanta's win over the Jets ended a three-game losing skid and a strong performance against a division opponent could potentially put the rest of the NFC South on notice.

Get to know the Panthers

The Panthers have added several new pieces to their team – especially on offense.'s Will McFadden breaks down five Panthers you should know about ahead of Sunday's matchup

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