THREE KEY MATCHUPS: Falcons at Panthers

Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant: Smith, 34, leads the team in receptions. He has 32 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He's as feisty as ever and hasn't shown any signs of slowing. The Falcons held him to three catches for 52 yards in the first meeting last season, but he erupted for seven catches for 109 yards in the second game. The Falcons haven't been shy about leaving Trufant, a rookie, in man-to-man coverage. He went against Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald last week. He leads the team with seven pass breakups, according to the coaches' film review stats.

Panthers LDE Charles Johnson vs. Falcons RT Jeremy Trueblood or Lamar Holmes: Johnson has six sacks and is recovering from a groin injury. The former UGA standout has vowed to play. Johnson had 3.5 sacks and six quarterbacks hits in the first meeting last season. Holmes could move back to right tackle if Sam Baker can answer the bell at left tackle. After a bumpy start, Holmes is playing better.

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams vs. Falcons LB Paul Worrilow: Williams leads the team in rushing with 477 yards. He is the shifty kind of back that the Falcons have struggled against. He rushed 23 times for a season-high 120 yards against the New York Giants on Sept. 22. He also has 13 catches for 121 yards. Worrilow, an undrafted free agent rookie from Delaware, has 21 tackles according to stats from coaches film reviews.

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