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3 key matchups: Panthers at Falcons


Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly vs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan: Kuechly, a three-time All-Pro, is off to another strong start. The Panthers give him defensive audibles to attempt to match what Ryan is calling for the Falcons. Since entering league in 2012, Kuechly leads the NFL in tackles (625). He had an interception in the last meeting on Dec. 13, 2015. Ryan passed for 306 yards and a touchdown to lead the Falcons to the only regular-season victory over the Panthers in 2015.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen vs. Falcons SS Keanu Neal: Olsen has had five or more receptions in four of the past six meetings against the Falcons. Olsen, a two-time Pro Bowler, has made 18 catches for 259 yards and one touchdown this season. Neal, a rookie who’ll be in his second NFL game, had four tackles and one pass breakup in his NFL debut against the Saints.

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant: Benjamin, who missed last season with a knee injury, had only one target last week against the Vikings. Benjamin was taken away by an assortment of zone coverages that caused quarterback Cam Newton to hold the ball. After missing last season, he’s caught 13 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Trufant is off to another strong start and will shadow Benjamin when the Falcons are in man-to-man.


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