FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons will play their first divisional game against on Sunday when they take on the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Here are four key stats you should know about Falcons cornerback Robert Alford and how he could impact this Week 2 matchup:
1. No-fly zone: Since entering the league in 2013, Alford has the most passes defensed in the NFL with 76 in that span. In 2017, the six-year veteran totaled 20 passes defensed, ranking fourth in the NFL. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton must be precise in his targets when throwing to Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith and D.J. Moore.
2. Rock ‘n’ roll: In nine career matchups against the Panthers, Alford has totaled 28 tackles (23 solo), 17 passes defensed, four interceptions and one forced fumble. Two of those four interceptions occurred against Newton. The other two were against Derek Anderson. Alford is the only active player in the NFL with four interceptions against the Panthers.
3. Tackle time: Since becoming a full-time starter in Week 14 of the 2013 season, Alford ranks fourth among starting cornerbacks in the NFL with 227 tackles over that span. Alford has started 62 of 74 games for the Falcons and was a viable part of why Atlanta’s defense was the ninth-best in the NFL last year and is the veteran presence needed to continue that success this year.
4. Defensive duo: When Alford was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Falcons also drafted another cornerback in the first round, Desmond Trufant. The duo has played in 66 games together, including eight against the NFC South rivals. In those eight games against Carolina, the pair totaled six interceptions and allowed only six touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. With numbers like those, this ninth showdown between Alford and Trufant versus Newton and the Panthers should be one to remember.