Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has played well in recent weeks and will provide a tough challenge for the Falcons' defense, especially on the ground.
The Carolina Panthers and second-year quarterback Cam Newton have endured a rather rough go of it this season, posting a disappointing 3-9 record heading into their game this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. However, Newton has begun to show signs of life in recent weeks, throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions in the past three games.
Falcons players have noticed the improvement in Newton's performance, but in a conference call with Atlanta reporters earlier this week, the quarterback said the numbers do not matter to him (via the Atlanta Journal Constitution):
"No. As far as statistically I could really care less as far as how it's been going. We play this game for one reason. We are looking forward to playing this game. It's a division game and we just want to get back in the swing of things."
The first-place Falcons will certainly be a tough challenge for Newton, although he and the Panthers' offense played pretty well in the first meeting this season between the two teams back in Week 4. In that game, Newton had 86 of Carolina's 199 rushing yards, but Atlanta won 30-28.
Newton was asked whether he thought the Panthers could duplicate that type of success on the ground:
"I'm not sure. I don't think it will be any problem. We've got guys that are hungry to play this game. If we go out and execute then it will be a good day at the office."
The Falcons' run defense has struggled for much of the season, although they have shown some signs of life in previous weeks. The Panthers will likely be without running back Jonathan Stewart, so Newton is sure to take on even more of the rushing load.