It's do or die for quarterback Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers. After starting the season 3-0, Carolina is now 3-4 heading into Sunday's game at Atlanta (3-3 record).

After making a field goal on their first drive of the game last week, the Panthers went scoreless and allowed a safety in a 25-3 loss to the lowly New York Giants (2-5).

Over the past four games, Darnold has completed 80-of-142 passes (56.3 percent) for 797 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's been sacked 15 times over that stretch.

The Panthers will be without Christian McCaffrey again this week. The All-Pro running back is eligible to return from injured reserve next week.

Carolina has been without linebacker Shaq Thompson for the past two weeks. Thompson returned to practice this week but is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Carolina is also hoping to have cornerback Stephon Gilmore available on Sunday. The Panthers traded for Gilmore earlier in the season, but he has yet to make his debut for the team while recovering from a quad injury that required offseason surgery.

Starting safety Juston Burris is also expected back soon after being designated to return from injured reserve this week.

Atlanta currently ranks 17th in the league in total offense (354.2 yards per game) and 27th in rushing yards (87.8 yards per game).

Picked fourth overall in the 2021 draft, tight end Kyle Pitts has come alive of late after a slow start to the season. Over the past two weeks, Pitts has caught 16 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown.

The Panthers have lost six of their last seven and nine of their last 11 against the Falcons. Last season, Carolina won the road meeting, 23-16, while the Falcons were victorious at Bank of America Stadium, 25-17.