Panthers preview: Oct. 29 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Game: Atlanta Falcons (1-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-4), 8:20 p.m.

TV: FOX (Joe Buck play-by-play, Troy Aikman color analyst, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink sideline reporters)

RADIO: WBT-AM 1110/WBT-FM 99.3 in Charlotte is flagship station (Mick Mixon play-by-play, Kurt Coleman and Jim Szoke color analysts, Kristen Balboni sideline reporter)

THE SERIES: Atlanta leads series 32-19 but the Panthers 23-16 win in Atlanta on Oct. 11 ended five-game Falcons’ winning streak.

RANKINGS AMONG NFL (Through week 7): Carolina offense – 16th overall, tie-20th rushing, 11th passing. Carolina defense – 13th overall, 18th rushing, 10th passing. Atlanta offense – 6th overall, tie-20th rushing, 3rd passing. Atlanta defense – 31st overall, 6th rushing, 31st passing.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3 – Number of seasonal sweeps by Carolina of Atlanta. They came in 1997, 2005 and 2013 and Panthers can complete a fourth seasonal sweep with a win in this game.

NOTABLE: A big question entering the game will be the availability of Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey injured his right ankle during the second game of the season and has been on injured reserve ever since. First-year Carolina head coach Matt Rhule said on Monday that McCaffrey could return to action this week and the team designated him for return from the injured list on Tuesday….
After yielding 12 of 14 conversions on third down last in last week’s 27-24 loss at New Orleans, the Panthers’ third down defense is yielding a 56.3 percent overall third down conversion rate. It’s ranked 31st in the 32-team NFL. Carolina has struggled mightly on third-and-medium (4 to 6 yards) situations by yielding a 75.0 percentage rate….
Carolina has a 2-7 record on NFL Network Thursday Night games. The only Panthers’ wins came in 2013 at Tampa Bay (31-13) and in 2016 at home against New Orleans (23-20)….
Atlanta is under the direction of interim coach Raheem Morris, who replaced Dan Quinn after the the Falcons’ home loss to Carolina….
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s 61.0 winning percentage as a starting quarterback ranks ninth among active NFL quarterbacks with 20 or more starts; He trails Lamar Jackson 85.7 percent (24-4 record), Patrick Mahomes 78.9 (30-8), Jimmy Garoppolo 77.4 (24-7), Tom Brady 77.2 (224-66), Russell Wilson 68.3 (91-42), Ben Roethlisberger 67.8 (150-71), Aaron Rodgers 65.8 (118-61) and Jared Goff 61.7 (37-23)….
Three Falcons have Carolinas connections – Running back Todd Gurley is from Tarboro and led that school to its third straight state title in 2011 in a 39-36 victory over Lincolnton at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, defensive lineman Grady Jarrett played at Clemson and tight end Hayden Hurst played at South Carolina.