Atlanta Falcons (3-6 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (3-6-1 SU, 5-5 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date and Time: Sunday, November 16, 1:00pm EST
Where:Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +2/CAR -2
Over/Under Total: 46
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If I told you that in week 11 of the NFL there would be a game between two teams who had three wins each, that had major playoff implications, you would think I was insane. Well, that’s exactly what we have when the Atlanta Falcons travel into Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. Atlanta comes in at 3-6, while the Panthers sit at 3-6-1. The winner of this game will take over sole possession of 2nd place in the NFC South, and depending on what the New Orleans Saints do against the Bengals, could possibly mean FIRST PLACE in the south. What a mess this division is, but it sure makes things fun and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
The line opens with Carolina as a two point home favorite which in my opinion is just Vegas saying that this game is a toss up. Anytime I see a home team favored by less than three, that means it is anyone’s ball game. Against the spread this year, Atlanta is 4-5, while Carolina is 5-5. The total points are set at 46 in this contest which tells me people are looking for a 24-21 or a 26-23 type finish. This game will be tough to predict since both teams are not very good this season.
Both of these teams have been a huge letdown in 2014. The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a 4-12 campaign in 2013 that many thought was a fluke but it is looking more and more like this is just a bad team, especially on the offensive line and defense. Carolina came in with high hopes. Many experts actually picked the Panthers to win the south this season due to a strong defense and the great play of Cam Newton. Well, that hasn’t worked out as planned either. This game to me is a complete toss up, I could see it being a battle to the end, but I could also see a blowout for either side as well.
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The Atlanta Falcons just two years ago were about 5 yards from making it to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Since that moment, the Dirty Birds have been anything but great. They have won just seven games since that time, which is the worst run ever for a team coming off a Conference Title game. The craziest thing about all of this is the fact that Atlanta is still very alive in the NFC South race. The Falcons are 3-0 in the division and a win over Carolina and a Saints loss, would put Atlanta in sole possession of first place in the division and in the driver’s seat to host a playoff game. Crazy, I know. But remember just a few years ago, the Seattle Seahawks went 7-9 and won the NFC West. They then hosted the defending Super Bowl champion Saints…and beat them. All you got to do is get into the playoffs, and anything can happen. Lets also not forget, that the Falcons were also a play or two away from beating Detroit a couple of weeks ago in England. If they held on for that win, things would be even more interesting in the NFC South. The key for Atlanta here is to pressure Cam Newton. One of the knocks on the Falcons defense this year has been their lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Carolina offensive line may be just as bad as the Falcons, and with Cam already banged up with bad ribs, bad ankle, and bad decision making, the Falcons could force some huge turnovers that would alter this game tremendously.
The Carolina Panthers planned on being not only an NFC South contender this year, but an NFC championship contender as well. Hopes were high for the defense and they have been anything but good this season. On the offensive side of the ball, not only is the offensive line terrible, and Cam Newton playing injured, but they let the best player in the history of the franchise walk away this off-season and he is now a big time player in Baltimore. Of course I am talking about Steve Smith. Now the Panthers offense has no major playmakers, and they are suffering bad. There really isn’t much more to get into about the Panthers other than their keys to victory is about the same as I said about the Falcons. Pressure the QB. If Carolina can find a way to get Matt Ryan in long third downs and get pressure on him, he, like Cam, can make mistakes to flip field position as well.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I have no idea how this game will go. This is a tough one. When I say I can see it heading any direction, I am serious. I would not be shocked to see either team win by 24 points, and I also would not be shocked if we had an overtime thriller. Both of these teams are very hard to gauge. What I will do, is base this on a few stats throughout this season. Well, first off, Carolina played a tough Monday night game in which they were physically and mentally abused by the Philadelphia Eagles. So one less day of rest, advantage, Falcons. Points per game this season, advantage, Falcons. Atlanta also has the edge in yards allowed and red zone scoring on the season. Carolina is a more disciplined team with less penalties, but when all is said and done, I really believe Atlanta goes in and gets a nasty, ugly, hard fought 23-21 win over the Panthers. PICK THE ATLANTA FALCONS +2