Even though the Panthers are a 1-4 ball club, there’s a feeling in the air that they are having a winning season. Certainly it is thanks to gaudy stats by rookie Cam Newton. It is far too early to claim Newton a stud, though. In any case, he has surpassed expectations and quieted a lot of critics in the process. The Atlanta Falcons, a preseason Super Bowl favorite have been struggling to get into a groove. This is a critical time of the year for them, sitting at 2-3; they have to find some confidence soon to get back into Super Bowl talks.
Cam Newton has sliced and diced defenses while breaking rookie records in the process. Newton became only the seventh quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 400-yards in week 1 and week 2. He also broke the NFL record for passing yards in a rookie’s debut; his 422 yards shattered Otto Graham’s from 1950. Just when you think he is going to have a down week, Newton just keeps coming out and putting up big numbers. Through week 5, Newton has 1610 passing yards, 160 on the ground, and 12 all-purpose touchdowns. The only issue has been the interceptions, but that’s getting a nit-picky considering what he has done so far. The running game has seen a resurgence of sorts as well. The Panthers average around 117 yards a game with Newton and DeAngelo Williams leading the attack on the ground. After reading this spiel about their offense, it is quite obvious why they aren’t winning the game. While Newton has been terrorizing defenses, their own defense has been getting thrashed at the same time. Mainly the run defense, as they are surrendering just over 135 yards a game (27th). The pass defense is better, but they have given up some big plays through the air.
The Falcons are having problems of their own on defense, and while the Panthers have their issues stopping the run, the Falcons can’t stop the pass. The secondary was a problem spot for the Falcons coming into the season, and it appears it is living up to its billing. Expect the Panthers to attack the Falcons through the air all game long, it could be another long day for that secondary. Their pass defense ranks 28th in the NFL, and has gotten torched by the likes of Tarvaris Jackson. The offense has been out of sync as well, but they should get something going against a porous rush defense. Expect a big game out of Michael Turner. Julio Jones is expected to be sidelined, but it may end up helping them. The Falcons have tried desperately to get Jones involved, and it hasn’t worked well so far. He may very well be a great player in the future, but the offense will essentially look like the offense from last year without Jones, which is not a bad thing at all.
Panthers vs. Falcons Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers +4
@Atlanta Falcons -4
Over 50.5 (-110)
Panthers vs. Falcons Pick:
In the comforts of the Georgia Dome, I think the Falcons revert back to the offense of last year. I feel like this is a perfect game for the Falcons to get out of the slump, and put a run together in the next few weeks. They very well may need to breakout to win this game, because Cam Newton is on the other sideline ready to pounce on one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. If the Falcons lose this game, it is safe to say their season is probably done. I think they come out with plenty of fire to avoid a devastating loss at this point in the season. Take the over and watch the points pile up.
PICK = Over 50.5