The starter might be Matt Moore, or it might be Vinny Testaverde - it's hard to say at this point. But the key in today's matchup against Atlanta will be getting Travelle Wharton help. Wharton has 6.5 sacks on the year, more than twice the next player (Justin Hartwig and Ryan Kalil have 3 apiece). John Abraham has torn up Travelle before, and whoever starts against Atlanta must have time to throw. There's no reason we can't help Wharton, and he's going to require it. The Falcons only have 11 sacks, but 6 are Abraham's.
On the other side, Jordan Gross should be able to handle Jamaal Anderson, the top Falcons' pick who hasn't had a sack as a pro. Jordan Babineaux inside isn't a hard player to move, and Rod Coleman is a
On the second level, Michael Boley leads the team in tackles at SLB; Keith Brooking has manned the middle solidly, but has dropped off from Pro Bowl form a little. Still, the team must account for the pair and WLB Demorrio Williams in the stretch game, and pursuit is generally good. Carolina won this game in week 3 on the back of Deshaun Foster, who the Falcons haven't been able to stop often in years; the meeting before that featured Deangelo Williams running the offense from the single wing. Getting solid blocking on the Falcons' front is key, and certainly realistic.
Last game's passing was limited, partially by the Delhomme injury, and by some game sickness for Steve Smith; the ongoing feud with Deangelo Hall left Smith with 1 catch but with Hall's actions leading to the game winning points. Jeff King was active, and should be getting targets again this week; Keary Colbert had 3 receptions in the game, but is out for this week. Drew Carter and Dwayne Jarrett have to take the pressure off Smith. With the Falcons' rush, look for some screen action, but hopefully this time it will be executed better. Carolina can sustain drives against this defense, and should. Look for a lot of running, no matter who the QB is.
On defense, it's critical to not allow the mistakes that were made last time. Letting Roddy White have 127 yards and a score isn't acceptable in this type game, and Michael Jenkins was more productive than we can allow. The team did a solid job overall of holding Alge Crumpler despite one score last game, and haven't let TEs kill them this year overall. Coverage will be better simply by not playing Marquand Manuel, and by having Jon Beason in the middle of the defense.
Joey Harrington can't be allowed to be as efficient, and he needs to be pressured consistently. The Falcons have given up a lot of sacks, and Carolina hasn't notched many, which will have to change. Harrington's not a good quarterback, and shouldn't be allowed to notch 75% completions last time. Kris Jenkins came up with one sack, but pressure was negligible.
The Falcons' run offense is its only moderately redeeming unit, being 20th in the league where most stats are rock-bottom. Warrick Dunn is still a solid back, but Carolina held him to 55 yards last meeting and Dunn's averages have dropped this year. Jerious Norwood may not play at all due to injury.
The rest is up to the QB, whoever he may be.