In a huge NFC South clash on Tobacco Road, both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers come in on ATS win streaks, as the Falcons have covered seven of nine in this series while the Panthers are on a 5-1 ATS streak in NFC South games.
Point Spread: The Panthers opened as seven-point favorites, but have been bet as high as nine-point favorites at some sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. The total was 44.
Computer Prediction: Panthers 30.1, Falcons 18.0
The Falcons will be competitive, as they're in must-win mode and have no choice but to prevail in this game. They looked good in a victory over Tampa Bay, then had a poor showing in the desert. Now they have the surging Panthers and will host Seattle next week.If there was ever a time for them to step up, it's now.Carolina comes in after a Thursday night win over lowly Tampa Bay, so the extra time to prepare helps, as the Falcons were in Arizona last Sunday. Cam Newton has been outstanding throwing the ball in wins over Minnesota, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. He has also has been able to run the ball effectively.
Atlanta is battered and looking anything like the Super Bowl contender experts claimed it was in September.Carolina not only has a balanced offense resting in Newton's hands, but has also displayed a dominant defense. The Panthers came out of their game with Tampa Bay boasting the league's No. 3 defense. They limited the Bucs to 48 rushing yards and 297 yards overall.
While the Atlanta Falcons (2-5) will try to rebound after a beat down against the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers (4-3) are on a three-game win streak, as they took care of business against the short-handed Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Panthers may have not gotten the hype like the Falcons did even before the season began, it will be the Panthers that will be favored to come out on top against a Falcons’ team that saw its hope crushed with their latest defeat. If the Falcons’ offense struggled that much against the Cardinals, Matt Ryan and Co. will be in for a long night against one of the top defensive units in the NFL.
Starting off with the Falcons, other than Ryan and his new top target Harry Douglas, everyone else has been very inconsistent in terms of their production. Although Douglas has emerged into a dynamic playmaker for the Falcons, losing two key offensive players has started to take its toll on an offense that will be on life support against a suffocating defense.
Against the Cardinals, the Falcons’ offensive line allowed Ryan to be hit 11 times and sacked on four separate occasions. Even worse, despite Steven Jackson returning, the offensive line created little to zero running room, as they team gained 27 yards on 14 attempts on the ground.
The Falcons shouldn’t expect to see their ground game getting resurrected anytime soon, as the Panthers are ranked 2nd in rushing defense, allowing 79.3 yard per game this season. Heading into this game, the Falcons are ranked last in the NFL with 62.4 yards per game on the ground, and that number figures to be much lower when these two teams meet.
As for the passing attack, Ryan will once again target his two top playmakers in Douglas and Tony Gonzalez. If the Cardinals forced Ryan into four interceptions, the Falcons better hope that the offensive line can give Ryan at least time to hike the ball against the 10th ranked passing defense in the NFL.
While the Panthers are surging at the right time, unfortunately for the Falcons, they are headed in the wrong direction and may end up being hammered by a team that has played excellent in the past few weeks.
Since their 0-2 start, the Panthers are 4-1 in their last five games and have played exceptionally well on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Cam Newton, who is coming off one of his best games so far, seems to be back to the dynamic player that we saw in his rookie year.