It’s Thursday Night Football time in the NFL. In the Week 8 edition of Thursday Night Football, we have the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers meeting at Bank of America Stadium. It could be worse, it could be better. The Falcons are in the midst of a disappointing season despite some talented playmakers on their offense.
A team with Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley on the field at the same time shouldn’t be going into tonight with a record of 1-6. Matt Ryan is on the downside of his career, but is still better than a lot of other starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Falcons are in the running for the first overall pick in the draft. They’re one of five teams with only one win on the season. However, the New York Jets have the inside path to the pick. They’ve been terrible this season and very well may not win a game.
Trevor Lawrence going to the Falcons would be a perfect scenario. He instantly goes to a team with weapons and should be able to put up numbers immediately. Even if Julio Jones gets traded, and it sure looks possible, Lawrence would have a competent offense to work with.
They are coming off what should have been a win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Run the ball and kill the clock was too much to ask for the Falcons. Since blowing their lead in the Super Bowl, the Falcons have invented all kinds of new ways to lose games.
Instead of sitting down at the 1-yard line, Gurley scored to grant Matthew Stafford and the Lions another possession. The Falcons ultimately lost on 4th down with no time left on the clock. They’re on a short week, but that might be for the better following a loss like that.
The Panthers go into Thursday with a record of 3-4. I think that’s just about where we had the Panthers at this point. No surprises with them. Teddy Bridgewater has been fairly efficient for the Panthers. He’s unlikely to get this team to a Super Bowl, but there are far worse options than Bridgewater out there in the NFL. Against a bad Atlanta defense, he should have a fine game. Head below for our free Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers pick for October 29, 2020.
Julio Jones. D.J. Moore.
Two exciting WRs on display on #TNF!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 28, 2020
Hayden Hurst Receiving Yards
Julio Jones was limited earlier in the week in practice, but is scheduled to play on Thursday night in Charlotte. He was a full participant on Wednesday despite dealing with a minor hip injury. It shouldn’t bother him much in this one. What does this have to do with Hayden Hurst? It means a lot, because if defenses have to worry about Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones, room should open up for Hurst to do some damage in the passing game.
In the Falcons’ first meeting against the Panthers a few weeks ago, Hurst was a non-factor in a 23-16 loss. The Panthers did a good job on Hurst, though they forgot about Ridley over the top and he went wild for 8 receptions and 136 yards receiving. Note that Julio did not play in that game, so the Panthers’ defense was free to key in on Hurst much more than they would have if their star wide receiver was healthy. With Julio back in the lineup, expect more chances for Hurst.
He certainly had them the last two weeks with him on the field. Hurst caught 4 receptions for 57 yards in Week 6 against the Vikings, and then 6 receptions for 68 yards last week in a losing effort against the Lions. And four weeks ago, Hurst caught 4 receptions for 51 yards against the Packers. If we want to go back to the Bears game in Week 3. Hurst did nothing with Julio out of the game. You see where I’m going with this. Look for Hurst to have a productive game on Thursday night.
Curtis Samuel Receptions
I see this as another sneaky under-the-radar prop play for Thursday night. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore both burned the Falcons in their first meeting. Anderson caught 8 receptions for 112 yards. The former Jet has been the No. 1 target for Teddy Bridgewater in this offense. Meanwhile, DJ Moore, a big deep threat for the Panthers, hauled in 4 balls for 93 yards.
The Falcons will have to do something about watching out for Moore beating them deep, and Anderson torching them again from all over the field. All the while in that game, Curtis Samuel was still targeted often. Samuel caught 5 receptions on 5 targets for 36 yards. Samuel has caught at least 4 receptions in three of his previous four games and in four of six starts in 2020.
Look for Falcons to emphasize attempting to contain Anderson and Moore, while giving an opportunity for Samuel to break free throughout this game. At a minimum, he should receive enough targets to get OVER this receiving prop on Thursday night. Look for Samuel to play a bigger role than he’s used to against the Falcons in this one.
Todd Gurley Receiving Yards
I’m looking for some of the more under-the-radar plays for Thursday night. Selecting Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Robby Anderson props would seem like the way to go. However, I think both defenses are going to attempt to put a blanket on those receivers. Somebody is likely going to have a big game, either Julio or Calvin, and for the Panthers, either Moore or Anderson, but I think there’s an opportunity for others to play more of a role in this one as well.
Todd Gurley was a non-factor in the Falcons’ passing-game earlier in the season, but he’s played more of a role in recent weeks. Gurley has been targeted 12 times over the last three weeks for a total of 9 receptions and 68 yards receiving. His best receiving game was against the Panthers on October 11. That’s the game that saw Gurley become more involved as a receiver. He caught 4 receptions for 29 yards in that game. Gurley has had at least 19 yards receiving in each game since then. Note that a receiver has had at least 15 yards receiving against the Panthers in every game in 2020. This should be a prop that goes OVER.