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NFL Draft

Falcons vs Panthers Thursday Night Football Betting Preview

  • The Draft Network
  • October 29, 2020
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If you would’ve asked most NFL fans at the start of the season to assign records to the two teams meeting this Thursday night by the time we got to Week 8, many would have attached the 1-6 label to the Carolina Panthers and the 3-4 label to the Atlanta Falcons. But as we find out every year, preseason predictions mean absolutely nothing once teams actually get on the field, and the opposite turned out to be true.

The Panthers have played significantly better than expected over the first two months of the season with a new head coach, new coaching staff, new starting quarterback, and a completely revamped defense. And they’re doing it all without star running back Christian McCaffrey, who’s missed most of the season due to injury. Carolina is scrappy on the defensive side of the ball with a bunch of young players and its offense is productive—coming in just about the cut-off line of ranking in the top half of the league—and sometimes explosive. All in all, Matt Rhule and Co. have done a fantastic job this season.

The Falcons, on the other hand, are still reeling from back-to-back 7-9 seasons, unable to even remotely solve the defensive woes that have plagued them for years. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley are playing at a high level, but the list doesn’t go too far beyond that. Atlanta is dynamic through the air, but they’re not a particularly strong running team and the other side of the ball is a liability. Between that and their penchant for blowing big leads in dramatic fashion, they’ll have a new full-time head coach next season.

So what will happen when these two NFC South foes meet? Let’s get into the game. All odds are courtesy of our friends over at BetOnline

Spread: ATL: +2.5 (-108) | CAR: -2.5 (-112)

Moneyline: ATL: (+117) | CAR: (-137)

Total: 49 – Over: (-116) | Under: (-104)

These two teams met in Week 5 in Atlanta and the Panthers handed the Falcons their fifth consecutive loss to open the season. The Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn after the game then bullied Kirk Cousins and Co. the following week in Minnesota. But Week 7 was a return to the norm for Atlanta, as they lost in dramatic last-second fashion to the Detroit Lions. 

The Panthers have lost back-to-back tight games to the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, but I think they bounce back and take care of business at home on Thursday night. It’s possible McCaffrey returns—at least in a limited capacity—and if not, Mike Davis can hold down the fort at running back against the porous defense. While not as elite as the Ridleys and Julio Jones of the world, the Panthers have plenty of weapons to use to expose Atlanta’s defense: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, etc. Against the four teams they’ve faced that are ranked in the bottom half of the league in total defense, Carolina is averaging 26.3 points per game, crossing the 30-point threshold twice. 

The current line indicates that the Panthers wouldn’t be favored on a neutral field, which is a little odd. Atlanta is way too one-dimensional to take them on the road on a short week against an offense that can put up points. Give me the Panthers to win and cover, and the over on 49 points. 

Pick ATS: Panthers -2.5

NFL picks ATS 2020: 62-41-2 (60%)

NFL picks ATS 2019: 145-119-3 (55%)

NFL picks ATS 2018: 140-115-12 (55%)

To bet on these games and more, head over to BetOnline.

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