Here are 5 things to mull over before today’s 1 p.m. kickoff between the Carolina Panthers (1-2) and the Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at the Georgia Dome.
1. PASS RUSH. Did the Falcons learn anything from Minnesota getting eight sacks against the Panthers? Dwight Freeney is rounding into form, but the rest of the pass rushers need to step up their games. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden called them out before the Saints game when he showed clips of them sticking too long on blocks.
2. BREAKOUT GAME FOR JULIO JONES. Looking for a breakout game from Julio Jones after he caught just one pass for 16 yards against the Saints. Jones said he’s not hurt and is ready to roll. He had a 178-yard game in the 20-13 win over the Panthers last season.
3. RADIO AND TELEVISION: Fox will have the game with Dick Stockton, Chris Spielman and Kristina Pink working the game. Wes Durham, Dave Archer and John Michaels will call the game for 92.9 The Game with the Countdown to Kickoff show being handle by Ryan Cameron and Mike Conti.
4. THE HUSSEY CREW: The John Hussey crew will call the game. Hussey Crew — R: John Hussey (35). FJ: Jimmy Buchanan. (86) U: Tony Michalek (115). SJ: Allen Baynes (56). HL: Wayne Mackie (106). BJ: Keith Ferguson (61). LJ: Ron Marinucci (107). RO: Mike Wimmer. This is Hussey’s second season as a referee. He’s been calling games in the NFL since 2002. His crew has been calling 14.33 penalties per game this year.
5. SERIES RECORD: This will be the 43th regular-season meeting. The Falcons lead series 25-17. The Falcons won the last meeting 20-13 on Dec. 27, 2015 at the Georgia Dome. The defeat was Carolina’s only loss during the regular season. The Panthers had won five of the previous six meetings.
GAME THREE: Falcons 45, Saints 32
GAME TWO: Falcons 35, Raiders 28
GAME ONE: Buccaneers 31, Falcons 24