Atlanta Falcons (1-6 2-5 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (3-4 4-3 ATS)
The Falcons are coming off yet another tough loss and hit the road for an NFC South encounter on Thursday night facing the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are a 2.5-point home favorite in this game with a total sitting at 49.
While the total has dropped from 51 to 49 since opening the line has remained the same.
The Falcons lost their last game 23-22 to the Detroit Lions giving up a TD on the last play of the game. They allowed the Lions to attempt a comeback with a minute left after RB Todd Gurley was told not to score to run the clock down but did so anyway to give the ball back to Detroit.
After a four-game win streak, the Panthers have lost their last two games. In a bright spot for the team star RB Christian McCaffery returned to practice for the first time in five weeks but is still listed as questionable for the Thursday night game.
The Panthers’ last win came facing the Falcons beating them 23-16 in Atlanta.
The Falcons had covered the spread against the Panthers in five straight games before failing to do so a few weeks back.
Not only did Gurley fail to fall before the goal line to give the rock back to the Lions but the team missed a point after attempt and failed to pick a fourth down in the fourth quarter instead of going for a field goal.
Matt Ryan has been rumored to be on the trading block, but he has led an Atlanta team that ranks fifth in the league in passing yards per game. He passed for 338 yards with a TD and no INT in the loss to Detroit and has played well in the last two games.
Ryan has not gotten much help from the run game this season and in the loss to the Lions, the Falcons only rushed for 66 yards. Gurley led the team in the game with 63 yards but in his last two games has only averaged 2.7 and 2.4 yards per carry respectively.
Julio Jones had 97 receiving yards in the Detroit loss after going for 121 receiving yards in the previous game.
Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack on the defensive side of the ball and while they have had issues against the run can Gurley and the Falcons take advantage of that?
Bridgewater Cannot Do It All
In the Panthers last game, they lost to the New Orleans Saints where Teddy Bridgewater had a solid game but the team was shut out in the fourth quarter and only rushed for a grand total of 37 yards.
Bridgewater passed for 254 yards with two TD and no INT in the loss to the Saints. He ranks fifth in the league in passing yards and has seven TD and three INT in his last four games.
DJ Moore led Carolina with 93 receiving yards in the last game and he and Robbie Anderson, who ranks second in the league in receiving yards, have combined for 1,207 receiving yards and four TD.
The Panthers are really hoping McCaffery will be back soon, as the run game has struggled without him. Mike Davis led the team in the loss to New Orleans with only 12 yards on seven carries and in his previous game rushed for 59 yards but only averaged 2.9 yards per carry.
The Falcons’ defense has given up the most yards in the league and while their run D has been pretty good their pass D ranks second to last in the NFL giving up an average of 333.4 passing yards per game. Not only has the pass defense been bad but Atlanta only has 10 sacks in six games.
The Falcons are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games while the Panthers are only 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games.
I think Bridgewater will have another good game and the Carolina defense will have. Good showing. McCaffery coming back would be a huge boost for the team but it remains to be seen if that will happen. Ryan will try again to carry the offense and he will put up some numbers and keep it close but at home, Carolina will win and cover.
PICK: Panthers -2.5