ON THE HOT SEAT: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan

Carolina’s pass defense has been shaky.

The cornerbacks are Melvin White and Josh Norman. The safeties are Falcons-reject Thomas DeCoud and Saints-reject Roman Harper. Colin Jones was listed as the starting nickel back last week.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will be on the hot against the Panthers’ pass defense, which has allowed opponents to complete 67.5 percent of their passes, a percentage that ranks 30th of 32 teams in the NFL.

The Panthers have allowed 19 touchdowns passes, which ranks tied for 30th. The opposing quarterbacks have a combined passer rating of 97.7 against the Panthers’ pass defense, which ranks 27th.

However, Ryan insists that that the Panthers are much better than their statistical profile.

“The stats can sometimes show a funny thing,” Ryan said. “They were put in a tough position last week with two turnovers early in the game.”

The Panthers are giving up 254.4 yards passing per game, which ranks 23rd in the league.

Ryan, perhaps trying not to incite a riot, insisted that the Panthers don’t have a lower-level defense.

“When you watch the film and cuts-ups of individuals, I think that you see that they do a good job against the run and the pass,” Ryan said with a straight face. “The statistics are a little misleading.”

The Panthers’ pass rush is suffering from the absence of defensive end Greg Hardy, who’s on the exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list as a result of his domestic-violence case.

Panthers coach Rivera agreed with Ryan. He believes the Panthers’ pass defense is better than the numbers suggest.

“There is something to that,” Rivera said. “We’ve played better lately, and we’ve played against some very good football teams, too.”

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