FLOWERY BRANCH — A look at the teams on the Falcons’ schedule and how they have reconstructed their roster since the season’s end. We’re up to regular season finale against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Dome.
GAME 16: CAROLINA PANTHERS
Carolina Panthers at Falcons at 1 p.m. Dec. 31
No longer with the Panthers: S Tre Boston, DE Kony Ealy, DT Paul Soliai and RB Mike Tolbert.
Key free agent signings/pickups: LB Julius Peppers, LT Matt Kalil, CB Captain Munnerlyn, WR Russell Shepard, SS Mike Adams and WR Charles Johnson.
Carolina Panthers’ 2017 NFL draft
|2||40||Curtis Samuel||WR||Ohio State|
|2||64||Taylor Moton||G||Western Michigan|
|3||77||Daeshon Hall||DE||Texas A&M|
|5||152||Corn Elder||CB||Miami (Fla.)|
|6||192||Alex Armah||FB||West Georgia|
|7||233||Harrison Butker||K||Georgia Tech|
Weaknesses: The Panthers’ wide receiver corps and the secondary are both weak links. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is battling weight issues and Devin Funchess has been a disappointment. The secondary will welcome the return of Munnerlyn and they are hoping Peppers still has some gas left in the tank.
Strengths: Steve Wilks, the former secondary coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator to take over for Sean McDermott, who was named Buffalo’s head coach. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula will figure out how to integrate the news weapons added through the draft.
Comment: The Panthers went from 15-1 to 6-10 and missed the playoffs after playing in Super Bowl 50. Quarterback Cam Newton had offseason rotator cuff surgery. The Panthers picked up Newton, who needs to cut down his running activities, a few new weapons in McCaffrey and Samuel. Three-time All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly missed six games with concussions issues. His return to form is key to any revival in Charlotte.
Falcons at Miami Dolphins at 7 p.m. Aug. 10
Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. Aug. 20
Arizona Cardinals at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 26
Jacksonville Jaguars at Falcons at 7 p.m. Aug. 31
Sept. 10 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 17 Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m. NBC
Sept. 24 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. Fox
Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 8 BYE
Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
Oct. 22 at New England Patriots, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Oct. 29 at New York Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thur), 8:25 p.m., NBC/NFL Network/Amazon
Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon). 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox