Five things to know before Falcons at Panthers kickoff

Here are five things to know before today’s Falcons (5-9) at Panthers (6-8) kickoff at 1 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.

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Both teams, who went to the playoffs last season, but are fighting through tough campaigns.

The Falcons snapped their five-game losing streak when they pummeled the Cardinals 40-14 last week.

The Panthers, who lost 12-9 to the Saints on Monday, have a six-game losing streak. They started the season 6-2.

Here are five things to know before kickoff:

1. Jones expected to play: Julio Jones returned to Falcons practice Friday in limited fashion, and head coach Dan Quinn said afterward that he will be a game-time decision. Jones, who will workout early for the coaches, is expected to play.

Starting cornerback Desmond Trufant (ankle) is expected to play.

2. Heinicke to start: The Panthers have declared that quarterback Cam Newton will be inactive. Defensive tackle Kawann Short (calf injury) is questionable, but is expected to play. Here's a look at the day, Sept, 22, 2012, that Heinicke passed for 730 yards. 

3. Where to watch, listen or live stream: Fox will televise the game with Dick Stockton handling the play-by-play. Mark Schlereth will handle the analysis with Jen Hale as the field reporter. 

4. Rivera watch: Ron Rivera took over in 2011 and has posted a 70-55-1 record. He took the Panthers to Super Bowl 50. The Panthers are in danger of missing the playoffs after starting the season 6-2.  Rivera demoted defensive coordinator Eric Washington and fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and assistant secondary/cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura on Dec. 3 after unnamed reports surfaced about Rivera's future in Charlotte.

5. Series history: This will be the 48th meeting. The Falcons lead the series 29-18 and won the last meeting 31-24 on Sept. 16. The Falcons lost the last meeting in Charlotte, 20-17, on Nov. 5, 2017.


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