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Panthers Vs. Falcons: William Moore, Thomas DeCoud leading the defense

Atlanta's safety tandem is playing as well as any unit in the NFL.

Jeff Gross - Getty Images

With all the hype surrounding the Atlanta Falcons' passing attack, it might surprise some to learn that the defense is allowing opponents to score only 16 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the NFL.

At the head of that resurgence is new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who has safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud playing as well as any tandem in the league, as Daniel Cox of atlantafalcons.com writes.

Moore and DeCoud have a combined five interceptions in helping the Falcons' 3-0 start. They'll face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

DeCoud's three interceptions lead the team. He credits his performance thus far to Nolan and to a conscious effort to play the ball in the air better during the offseason:

"It's a combination of being in the right place in the right time and it's something I tried to get better at in the offseason, finding the ball while it's in the air and making a play on it while it's in the air," DeCoud said. "It's a combination of those two things."

Atlanta's seven interceptions and plus-10 turnover ratio lead the NFL. Forcing turnovers has been a big goal for the defense:

"Always part of the game plan every week is getting the ball back and creating explosive plays," DeCoud said. "That's one of our goals, to get two or three turnovers every game. That's one of our benchmarks so now I think the scheme is allowing us to really capitalize on those opportunities."

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.