Dan Quinn discusses some keys to stopping the Panthers

Falcons coach Dan Quinn knows that the first priority against Carolina is stopping quarterback Cam Newton.

He rushed for 86 yards in the Panthers’ 20-17 victory over the Falcons on Nov. 5.

The Falcons (9-6) can reach the playoffs with a victory over the Panthers (11-4) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“When you play a team that has some option to them, you better have your option rules right,” Quinn said Wednesday. “That’s certainly something that defensively we began yesterday and they are working through them again today in preparation for the game.”

Newton isn’t the only concern for the Falcons.

“Fortunately, it is a team that we are familiar with and some of the style that they do,” Quinn said. “Tackling, knowing your option rules, those are big factors for our defense.”

The Falcons want to take better care of the ball on offense. Devonta Freeman had a key fumble against the Saints. He’s had fumbles in each of the past three games.

“Offense, one of the main things, is to make sure that the ball security has got to be right,” Quinn said. “That’s in the run game and pass game. We feel like we missed some opportunities the last time in the pass game. We know the matchups and how to go and attack. In all three phases, we have to be on the details.”

The Falcons want to limit the Panthers’ explosive plays.

“That’s a big part of this game,” Quinn said. “They’ve had an excellent track record of having big, explosive runs. A 30-yarder, a 40-yard to go. A couple things that are going to be at the front of that, one is tackling. It’s not just on the quarterback although he’s a big factor in that, it’s also the way that they utilize the other players, the running backs, the tight ends.”