The NFC South is still a strong division. Two years after having three teams make the playoffs, there are another two in playoff contention this year. Both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers have playoff hopes, but the road there isn’t easy.
The division rival Atlanta Falcons will aim to make that road even harder for the Panthers a week after taking down the Saints. Falcons receiver Julio Jones will be a huge part of the effort as he’s a game-changer every week. Jones is set to have another great game in week 11 and perhaps spearhead another Atlanta upset.
Jones has been terrific against the Panthers. Well, he’s been terrific against just about everybody, but particularly the Panthers. When Jones posted his legendary 300-yard receiving game the Panthers were the ones victimized. Jones probably won’t be able to replicate that incredible outing, but his production on Sunday is virtually guaranteed. The Panthers aren’t particularly bad against the pass, they just have no answer to Jones.
Carolina’s cornerback crew doesn’t have a standout player, instead of relying on a couple of consistent guys. James Bradbury has assumed the Panthers’ number one cornerback spot, with sophomore Donte Jackson not far behind. Both guys have proven that they’re incapable of covering Jones just like the rest of the league. Safety help can be there sometimes, but there will be times where Jones is in one-on-one coverage. In those opportunities, the veteran receiver will flourish.
Speaking of opportunity, Jones should get plenty. Despite upsetting the Saints last week, the Falcons remain a terrible team. It would be a surprise if they had any type of control in this game. The Panthers should put up plenty of points against an awful Atlanta defense, putting the Falcons in a big hole early. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan will probably have to pass the ball 50 times if the Falcons want any shot at a win. Don’t be surprised if Jones is the target of 20 of those.
The Falcons shipped off fellow receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots before the trade deadline. Dynamic tight end Austin Hooper is dealing with a knee injury. To make matters worse, running back Devonta Freeman also won’t suit up due to a foot injury. The Atlanta offense is completely depleted, with Jones and fellow receiver Calvin Ridley being the only two reliable weapons.
With opportunity comes success for Julio Jones. With no run game and a deficit, Jones should top ten receptions. Don’t be surprised if he tops 150 yards on the day, continuing his reign of terror over the Panthers.