Five things to know before today’s Panthers at Falcons kickoff 

6:00 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 Atlanta Falcons

Here are five things to know before this afternoon’s 4:25 p.m. kickoff between the Panthers (11-4) and the Falcons (9-6) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

1. PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR THE FALCONS: Atlanta clinches a playoff berth with:

1) ATL win OR

2) SEA loss OR

3) ATL tie + SEA tie

2. LATE-FRIDAY ROSTER MOVE TO BOLSTER INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE: The Falcons, concerned about their depth along the interior of the offensive line, signed guard Jamil Douglas from the practice squad Friday.

To make room for Douglas, the Falcons released cornerback Deji Olatoye. Center Alex Mack (calf) is questionable for the game.  Left guard Andy Levitre (triceps) did not play last week against the Saints. Mack is expected to play. 

3. RUN GAME TO BE LIMITED WITHOUT TOILOLO: Without their best blocking tight end in Levine Toilolo (knee sprain, out for game), the Falcons outside runs will be tougher to hit against the Panthers. Toilolo is the best blocker of the trio and helps to win the edge when he’s in the game.

Tight end Eric Saubert will be active for the game to replace Toilolo as the second tight end behind Austin Hooper. The Falcons have used guard Ben Garland as a blocking tight end in some short yardage situations.

4. ALLEN WINS GOOD GUY AWARD: Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen was named the PFWA “Good Guy Award” winner in a vote of Atlanta writers and broadcasters regularly assigned to cover the team on Thursday.

Allen, a starter on the defense, was always available during the open locker room periods and after games. Also receiving high consideration from the voters were quarterback Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. 

5. SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 46th meeting. The Falcons lead the series 27-18. The Falcons have won three of the last four meetings. The Panthers won the previous meeting 20-17 on Nov. 5.