The Carolina Panthers have an undefeated season in their reach as they head into the Georgia Dome on Sunday. The NFC South was shaping up to be a two team race between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. Through the first few weeks of the season, the Panthers and Falcons were both undefeated and looked to set up week 16 and the division. Boy how things can change. The Panthers are not trying to match the 1972 Dolphins and 2007 Patriots as the only teams in the NFL to go undefeated. An undefeated season without a Super Bowl can feel kind of hollow, though. It is almost to the point where I’m sure some people think the Panthers should have a slip up before the playoffs and get it out of the way. A lot of people seen it like that with the Pats, but you play to win the game. Our old friend Herm Edwards will tell you that much. How about Kirk Cousins, though? I’m writing this as I watch the Redskins and Eagles. I had to throw that bit in there before I proceed, ha.
The NFL should just hand the MVP award to Cam Newton right now. I’m being a little premature, but there is no other guy in the NFL more deserving of the award than Newton. The most important thing for the Panthers here is to win the Super Bowl. Everything else is elementary. Everyone was singing the Patriots’ praises that season, but all anybody remembers is the catch that David Tyree hauled in with Rodney Harrison draped all over him. Tyree made the catch on his helmet, and the rest is history, the Patriots were denied in a true undefeated year in the Super Bowl against the Giants. No joke, the Panthers should watch that game before the playoffs. That is of course if they do in fact go undefeated.
The Atlanta Falcons want to spoil the party. The playoffs are still a reach away, though. The Falcons have themselves to blame. After the impressive start, they pissed it all away. Atlanta lost six in a row before beating the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. The win gave the Falcons a glimmer of hope to get a berth for the postseason. A lot of work to do, and a lot of luck has to go the Falcons way at this point. It would be a satisfying feeling nonetheless to end their division rivals perfect season. I provide additional thoughts below.
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons NFL Betting Odds:
vs. Falcons +6.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Falcons Pick:
The games that look so easy will come back to bit you sometimes. The Panthers are trying to avoid that, as everyone expects them to dispatch the Falcons fairly easily. The books don’t think it will be THAT easy, setting the spread on this game at 6.5. I think if they thought this would be a comfortable Carolina win it would have been a line of 7.5. The sportsbooks would have still attracted Panther money with a spread of 7.5 in my opinion. When you’re 14-0, bettors will jump on anything. Newton is a big reason for this, as he is having himself a year. On the season Cam has passed for 3402 yards and 33 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. For a guy like him, you need to take a look at the rushing numbers as well. Note that Newton has rushed for 580 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Carolina is 3rd in the NFL in yardage and are scoring 32 points per game. They’ve been running effectively and the pass game has been working, too. The most impressive part is that the Panthers are operating without their best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. It seemed like their offense was going to be dead in the water without his services, but others have stepped up, mainly tight end Greg Olsen who has asserted himself as one of the best tight ends in the league. Matt Ryan and the offense started off well, but with a six game losing streak comes some pains. The Panthers have scored 39 points per game their last five games. They should be able to shred the Falcons this afternoon. I like a high scoring game under the dome in Atlanta. I recommend the OVER 47.5.
PICK: OVER 47.5 POINTS (-110)