It’s not lost on anyone that the Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers game today is a tale of skill positions. Yes, the Panthers last week clinched a wild card playoff spot, and if they beat the Falcons today they’ll nab the NFC South division. But in spite of a certain team effort today, the Panthers will lean heavily on the best linebacker duo in the NFL and one of the league’s hottest quarterbacks, while the Falcons will try to send tight end Tony Gonzalez into retirement with a home win. You can see the game broadcast live on FOX or watch Panthers vs Falcons game free online live using one of several different tools.
The Panthers D will be out in force on the road when today’s Falcons game kicks offs at 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST. Ranked second in the NFL, the Panthers defense is anchored by an excellent front four and backed by the best NFL linebacker duo in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Kuechley leads the Panthers in both tackles (146) and interceptions (4), and last week he won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after torching New Orleans for 2 tackles, one shy of the NFL record. On the whole, the Panthers have 19 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries, resulting in the top-scoring defense through 16 weeks.
Atlanta will go up against that defense with the league’s sixth-ranked passing game. Quarterback Matt Ryan has eaten opposing defenses this year, completing 411 of 611 passes for 4,235 yards. Part of his performance has been out of necessity, as his top two running backs, former Oregon State Beavers Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, have combined for 834 yards this year. By comparison, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 810 yards on his own.
But when you watch Panthers vs Falcons game free online live you’ll likely focus on Carolina’s second leading rusher, quarterback Cam Newton. Newton’s 513 rushing yards and 3,230 passing yards don’t sound high considering the season totals of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Matt Stafford. The Panthers QB hasn’t had many big plays, and last week he struggled until the final 55 seconds, when he took the Panthers on a 65-yard game-winning drive against the Saints. Still, Newton’s found his way into the MVP discussion by leading the Panthers to victory in 10 of their past 11 games. It’s not like the Panthers have played lightweights either. Those victories included games against the Rams, 49ers, Patriots and Saints.
Newton may rely more on his team’s ground game in the Georgia Dome today. Wide receiver Steve Smith has been placed on the inactive list after injuring his knee last week jumping for a third-down pass. Smith would rather not watch today’s Panthers game from the sideline, especially with his team looking to clinch the division and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, but he’ll be forced to after coach Ron Rivera declared him out after Friday’s practice.
To see if the Panthers win the NFC South and a first-round bye today, you can watch Panthers vs Falcons game free online live on DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket with MAX Package. The package requires a subscription, but anyone who has one can watch the live streaming version free of any game, including today’s 1:00pm EST / 10:00am PST NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.