A big NFC South showdown will kick things off for us in Week 8 as the struggling 1-6 Atlanta Falcons will head to Carolina to take on the 3-4 Panthers.
While roles were supposed to be reversed this season for these teams, that just has yet to materialize thus far. The Falcons have been dreadful in many facets, resulting in the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. While they’ve played better since his departure, some mental errors and crushing defeats have seen another lost season unfold in Atlanta. Last week especially was particularly harsh, when running back Todd Gurley scored a late touchdown despite going down to run out the clock. This resulted in Detroit storming back to win the game late. Can the Falcons shake that off on short rest? It will be interesting to see their morale for Thursday night.
Meanwhile for the Panthers, a hot start has kind of faded after running into a string of good teams. While their offense has been clicking under Teddy Bridgewater and Mike Davis, their defense leaves a lot to be desired. There is also a chance that Carolina could get star running back Christian McCaffrey back into the fold this week, though expect an update on his status much closer to game time. If he plays, expect this line to shift a bit further in favour of the Panthers.
We aren’t yet at the half-way point officially for NFL action, but this game will mark that for both sides. If there’s any hope at being a playoff team this season, this divisional game is simply one both teams need to win. Let’s hope that desperation brings out some quality football in this NFC South divisional clash.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons +2 (-110)
@ Carolina Panthers -2 (-110)
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Pick:
Though these teams met three weeks ago and Carolina prevailed by a touchdown, the Panthers didn’t emerge unscathed – and in fact, they haven’t rebounded yet. In that game, Carolina lost two pillars on their defense, Kawann Short and Yetur Gross-Matos. As a result, their defensive front has been passive and porous in recent weeks, and they’ve yet to win a game since that point.
Even in the run game, the Panthers have been weakened. Specifically without Kawann Short, they’ve been giving up huge gains to opposing rushers, meaning an in-form Todd Gurley should be raring to go and in line for a big game. You can bet Gurley will definitely want to have a solid outing after last week’s mental mistake cost his team the win.
One reason why the Panthers have been staying afloat has been the play of Teddy Bridgewater and the Carolina offense. Surprisingly, it has been very good with a lot of new faces in the mix. Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore have formed their own dynamic duo at the receiver position, and the Falcons will also be in tough to limit them downfield.
In the run game, Christian McCaffrey might have a chance at playing – but it’s unlikely they push it in this spot. He’s either going to be out again, or limited. Monitor his status in the hours leading up to kickoff. Look again for it to be a steady dose of Mike Davis, who himself is battling a nagging ankle injury and has found it difficult to replicate his early season form.
Don’t expect too many stops in this contest, and while the Over 51 seems like a solid bet, the better one would be to back the Falcons getting points. There’s been a renewed sense of optimism ever since the Dan Quinn departure, and Atlanta is keen to play for their new staff. Without the pressure of the Carolina front, it should shift this game entirely from a few weeks ago, and the Falcons’ offense should be in excellent form. An Atlanta moneyline play seems to be good value for Week 8.