As the Atlanta Falcons open up division play against the Carolina Panthers, they are still seeking their first win of the 2020 season.
What will it take for them to get that first win? AtlantaFalcons.com writers Matt Tabeek, Kelsey Conway and Will McFadden discuss.
What will it take for the Falcons to beat the Panthers and get win No. 1?
Kelsey Conway: Get pressure on Teddy Bridgewater. With Takk McKinley back this week and a healthy Dante Fowler, I think the key to a win for Atlanta's defense will be on the defensive side of the ball. I believe Atlanta's offense will play at a high level today and I think if Fowler and McKinley are able to affect Bridgewater all day, especially early, the Falcons will get their first win of the season.
Will McFadden: There are a lot of ways to answer this question, but I'm going to say this game would be a great time for Todd Gurley to step into a time machine and put together a vintage performance. The Panthers have been solid against the pass this season, but they are a defense that can be run against. Carolina is giving up 125 yards on the ground per game this season, and with Julio Jones out, the Falcons would benefit from leaning on the run game. We saw flashes of the Gurley of old on Monday, and he would really put the Falcons in a good spot if he can dominate this game.
Matt Tabeek: The term "must-win" gets thrown around quite a bit, and I always cringe when I hear it or see it early on in the season. And I certainly don't like writing those words, either. But I did this week because, well, when a team is 0-4 and is playing a division game, that is certainly must-win territory. The Falcons are getting back some important defensive help Sunday and that unit will be the healthiest it's been in weeks with Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley, Foye Oluokun, Marlon Davidson and A.J. Terrell all on the field along with Kendall Sheffield, too. That's huge. To win this game, this unit needs to pressure Teddy Bridgewater, force him into mistakes, steal a possession or two and prevent chunk plays. Call me crazy, but I think they'll have their best performance of the season today. Julio Jones isn't playing, but if the offense can protect Matt Ryan and the ball, I think they'll score enough on this young Panthers defense for the win.