Carolina Panthers (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA
by Bob, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR -3 / ATL +3
Over/Under Total: 50
This Sunday there is a great NFC South match-up between the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers and Falcons are slowly becoming the best rivalry in the NFC South and one of the better ones in all of the NFC as a whole. Last season we saw the Panthers end the regular season at 15-1 and yeah, you know it, their one loss was to the Atlanta Falcons. This season is a little different already. The Panthers have already lost two games and the Falcons are 2-1 and atop the NFC South for the time being.
The line at this time has the Panthers as the road favorite over Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. The total points are set at 50 combined meaning that the books think these two teams will be putting up points. The early action is on the Panthers but not very one sided. 53% like the Panthers while 47% are taking the home dog Falcons.
Atlanta came out of the gates strong last season with a 5-0 start only to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. The Panthers had their best season in franchise history only to lose the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos in humiliating fashion. The Falcons this season, just like the previous three, have a couple of main concerns: Offensive Line, Defense Pass Rush. The Falcons have worked on the O-Line and it is getting better. They added center Alex Mack and Jake Matthews is also coming into his own. Unlike last season, Matt Ryan is looking like a Pro Bowler in 2016. After the worst season of his career, many Falcons fans were calling for a new quarterback. Some still are, but they are just ridiculous. Through the first three weeks of 2016, Ryan has thrown for an average of 312 yards per game ranking him 4th. He also has the number one quarterback rating in all of the NFL. Yes, it is just week four, but if he keeps this up along with the running game of Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman, this team will be very hard to stop offensively. The main weakness on this team is the defensive pressure on the quarterback. Atlanta has been one of it not the worst teams in the NFL in sacks over the last three seasons and it is not getting any better. The Falcons offense is ranked first in the league in scoring yet the defense is ranked 28th. If Dan Quinn can get the defense to just play “average” this could be a very good team. The key this weekend is not so much to pressure Cam Newton, although the Panthers did give up eight sacks just this past week to the Vikings, the key is to keep Newton contained. The Falcons cannot let Cam Newton get out of the pocket and beat them by running. They must make him throw.
The Panthers are angry, very. Coming into this game at 1-2 and against a hated division foe, their backs are against the wall in a big way. So far, the Panthers have looked bad. Really bad. The offensive line is letting Cam Newton get destroyed while the run game really has not done much either. Carolina has faced a 3rd down and 6+ 31 times this season…most in the NFL. Not only that, Cam Newton has thrown five interceptions through three games already. The Panthers have played the Falcons well over the last couple of seasons, but this is 2016, and if they want to win in the Dome this Sunday, they must play better. On both sides of the ball. I just talked about the horrible Falcons pass rush, but if the Carolina offensive line continues to play like they did against Minnesota, look for Dan Quinn to mix it up, bring some blitzes, and make things very uncomfortable for Cam Newton.
This is a tough one, I hate writing as a fan, but you guys know that many times I have no problem picking against my team. But in this case, I won’t. I truly think the Falcons offense is hitting a stride and I also think that the public and books are still over valuing Carolina because of how good they were last season. This is not the same team. I like Atlanta in a high scoring close one. Falcons win 30-27 on a late Matt Bryant field goal.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Pick the Atlanta Falcons +3 and over the posted total of 50 points
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