CHARLOTTE — Here are 5 things to mull over before today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between the Falcons (6-6) and the Panthers (12-0) at Bank of America Stadium.
1. THROWING DEEP: Just 7.3% of Matt Ryan’s passes travel over 20 yards, the lowest deep ball percentage in the league. On deep attempts, Ryan has completed 15 of 35 passes for 450 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
2. FREE RODDY ISN’T WORKING: The Falcons have tried to incorporate Roddy White into the offense more, but that hasn’t been a solution to the unit’s woes. Atlanta has a passer rating of 56.5 when throwing to White, the worst of any wide receiver in the NFL.
3. MORE TIME FOR JARRETT: Rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett had the Falcons only sack last week against Tampa Bay. He had plus-8.9 grade from profootballfocus.com last week and has improved significantly over the course of the season. He has a PFF grade of +9.1 since week 8 and currently ranks 17th among all defensive tackles.
4. PLAYOFF PICTURE: The Panthers can take a step closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a victory. They are trying to edge out Arizona, which improved to 11-2 with a win over the Vikings on Thursday. The Falcons need a win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.
5. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 41st regular season meeting between the Falcons and the Panthers. The Falcons lead the series, 24-16. The Panthers won the last meeting, 34-3 and earned their second consecutive NFC South title last season. The Panthers have won four of the pass five meetings.
GAME COVERAGE — BUCCANEERS 23, FALCONS 19