Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Pick 11/17/19
Atlanta Falcons (2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 1PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Point Spread: ATL +6/CAR -6 (BetAnySports)
Over/Under Total: 50.5
The Atlanta Falcons come to Charlotte for an NFC South showdown on Sunday with the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons finally got a proper development on Sunday with the shock of the week, as a team that hadn’t won since week two went into the Superdome as two-touchdown dogs and won 26-9. They now look to keep it rolling against a 5-4 Panthers team that is looking to stay in the picture after a tough 24-16 loss to the Packers when the Panthers were stood up just short of the goal-line with a chance to tie the game late. Can they get pointed back in the right direction or will they too fall prey to the refreshed Falcons?
Time to Rethink Atlanta?
In a long season where there isn’t as much separating teams as some think, an upset win could be a blip on the radar, a freak occurrence before the Falcons revert to prior form. But they sure looked good on Sunday, especially as the defense made an imprint on the game and completely altered form. This had been a defense where scoring points against them was hardly a problem. But maybe they found some answers during the bye week because a rested Falcons “D” was rigid, clutch, and difference-making at the Superdome on Sunday.
Other than Desmond Trufant, no Falcons player has an interception. The pass-rush was dismal before last Sunday. The secondary had been getting lit up, and the run-stop wasn’t appreciably better. So for them to come off the bye and allow just over 300 yards in total offense to a home Saints offense says a lot. Or maybe it’s just an aberration. But with Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley, and Adrian Clayborn getting to the quarterback, the run-defense stopping the Saints, and the secondary at least avoiding a free-for-all, we saw what a top-gear Atlanta defense could do. Not allowing a TD to that offense isn’t easy to do. You have to look at this group a little differently.
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But Hold On…
Even in their high-water point of the season, Atlanta is still a ways from the Atlanta we once knew. Matt Ryan threw for 182 yards and had a pick on Sunday. Julio Jones is still a massive threat, but the accompanying cast is as bad as it’s ever been. Devonta Freeman isn’t the same guy, and their ability to run the ball is hurting, as they try to make it happen behind a flimsy front. Austin Hooper and Calvin Ridley are nice pieces, but the offense is generally one-dimensional and for the most part, flat. The aerial attack can be potent on the right day, but on the road against a decent Panthers’ secondary might be the wrong time to expect fireworks. This is also their final road game before a three-game homestand. It’s already their 6th road game of the season, and their road legs could be a tad weary, even if they had a bye a few weeks ago.
Seeing Flaws in the Carolina Formula for Success
For all their issues and for how bad they have looked at their worst, a 5-4 mark for the Panthers isn’t a total letdown. Losing two out of three isn’t good, but after an 0-2 start, there has been more good than bad, especially with how well they’ve kept the offense together without Cam Newton. Kyle Allen has filled in admirably, and they’re still a team with a future heading into week 11. And losing at Lambeau last week while being on the precipice of a win shows they’re in these games, able to compete with the better teams in the NFC.
But of all teams above .500 in the league, their rock-bottom may be the lowest. You never know when that clunker is coming, where despite everything lining up for a good game, they’ll be as flat as it gets. But let’s also acknowledge the drastic home/away differential with this offense. They have been far more lively at home, where they are this week. One issue of concern is the clutch factor. And for how good Christian McCaffrey is, he’s been stood up on the one-yard line twice in late-game situations this season, and you’d like to see a more-bankable unit in those types of games where the win, and usually the spread, is up for grabs.
Food for Thought
The Falcons, even with their team in disarray at times recently, have beaten the Panthers three times in a row, though this is their first meeting this season. There are guys on that sideline playing for their careers, and that includes head coach Dan Quinn and anyone not named Matt Ryan or Julio Jones. With a one-score loss to Seattle and a thumping of the Saints in their last two games, there is something to be said for momentum.
Take the Home Favorite
This could be singled out as the most crucial game of the season for the Panthers. This is either you handle a 2-7 Falcons team at home to end a bit of a recent slide, or you’ve just reduced yourself to a margin for error that will smother you. It’s a big game for Allen, McCaffrey, and the whole Carolina team from top to bottom. It was hard to right the ship after the way they started the season, and I look for a prideful team to deliver where they failed to last week. I’m laying the points on the Panthers in this one.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Carolina Panthers minus 6 points.
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