Panthers quarterback Jake Delhommes struggles this year have been no secret. Delhomme enters Week 10 with five touchdown passes and a NFL leading 13 interceptions. The interceptions have plagued the Panthers since Week 1, when Delhomme threw five picks to start the season. Luckily for the Panthers, the start was the worst part of the year for Delhomme. Delhomme has consistently turned the ball over this season with an interception thrown in six of eight games and only one game with no turnovers. Delhomme's turnovers haven't just given the opponent the ball, but given away points. The Panthers have had four turnovers returned for touchdowns and two others left their opponent in the red zone. The last two games have been the best for Delhomme with no interceptions thrown and only one lost fumble. It's easy to see the Panthers play better when he doesn't turn the ball over. The question is can the Falcons capitalize on possible turnovers? The last two weeks the Falcons defense has been able to turn turnovers into points.
Getting to the quarterback is a well-known way to keep your opponent from moving the ball and scoring. The Panthers rank low in the amount of quarterback sacks they have given up (17th in the NFL, allowing only 18 sacks for this season). Carolina runs the ball well, averaging 153 yards per game (third overall in rushing). Turnovers have been the obvious killer for the Panthers as they rank 31st in the NFL with a minus-9 turnover margin. But sacks are what appear to be helping the Falcons defense more then turnovers. In three of the Falcons five wins the defense has had more then two sacks. In those three games the Falcons won by an average of 20.3 points. The two games with just two sacks the Falcons won by an average of 7.5 points. If the Falcons defense can get after Jake Delhomme and sack the quarterback more then twice, the Falcons could be on their way to 6-3.
The Panthers average 4.7 yards a carry. But, the Panther defense is giving up 4.4 yards a carry and ranks 23rd in yards per game. For Michael Turner and the Falcons offensive line this game can't come at a better time. Turner is coming off back-to-back 150-yard games with long runs of 37 and 58 yards. Turnovers have been a bit of an issue for the Falcons run game, but with only one fumble lost in the last four games the problems seem to be taken care of. On the other side, the Panthers do not have their fumble problems solved. The Panthers lead the NFL with nine rushing fumbles. Though the Falcons defense has been prone to allow yards they should be able to create turnovers through the ground game. Sunday's game will start on the ground and definitely be determined on the ground.