Atlanta has all but secured a playoff seed. If the Saints beat the Bucs, it could happen today. Our chances of at least a wildcard are still close to certain as is. Not bad for a team that was expected to be third at best in the NFC South.
Anyway, we finished the sweep of the Panthers on Christmas Eve. Make that 27-17 against the Panthers and 7-5 against their best coach and quarterback ever. It might be rude to say that we own them but… we own them.
And we demonstrated that this year by dominating Carolina in both meetings. The first time was with Julio Jones’ 300 yards receiving. This time we had a more balanced team effort from our players. Matt Ryan threw for 277 yards despite getting sacked four times by throwing to ten other players.
The Rushing attack, which arguably looked like the closest to a weakness that this awesome offense has for some time, continues to get better and better. We got 140 net yards on the ground, most notably a crazy 55-yard touchdown by Tevin Coleman, possibly the most underrated star on this “O.”
Defensively, we were decidedly a mixed bag. Run defense got gashed by Jonathan Stewart. His total yards were modest, but don’t be fooled. Carolina had to limit the run in the second half because they were way down almost all the way.
Pass defense was another story. Jalen Collins has made the blow of the loss of Desmond Trufant sting much, much, less than I thought it would. He covered well and caught an interception (almost had two). Receivers were locked down and Cam Newton, despite his line playing as well as on Monday, completed less than half his passes.
I will say this, though. I was amazed when the graphic appeared showing that Cam’s had only one since 2015. Is it his race or the NFL voicing disapproval of players who decide to be controversial (the folks who mock Colin Kaepernick’s play while ignoring that the 49ers are all-around horrible, for instance)?
A blowout on the road in a big game is never a bad thing. RISE UP AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!