Atlanta Falcons (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday, December 13, 1:00pm
Where: Bank Of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
by Bob, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +7.5 / CAR -7.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
This Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will try to extend their record to a perfect 13-0 when they host the 6-6 Atlanta Falcons. Over the years, this game has become a pretty big rivalry in the NFC South and this year I am sure there will be no love lost when these two face off. Just last season, the NFC South was much like the NFC East this season. The Falcons had a losing record and hosted the Panthers in the final week of the season and the winner would win the NFC South and clinch a playoff spotand a home playoff game. Well, I was actually at the game and I witnessed the Carolina Panthers absolutely dominate the Falcons in the Georgia Dome by a score of 34-3. Of course a win by Atlanta in this game will not ruin any post season chances for Carolina, and it also will not get their coach fired like it did Mike Smith, but the Falcons would love to be THAT team that stopped any chance of perfection in 2015 for Carolina.
The line opens with the Panthers as a 7.5 favorite over the Falcons at home. The total points are set at 46.5 combined. I do not think this line will move much from this. 56% of the action is on Carolina and 44% on Atlanta. With those betting trends, I think most books will keep the line right between 7-8 points all the way to kickoff. Head to head in this series, Carolina has covered the spread in five of the last six matchups, including both games in 2014. Atlanta did get the outright win at Carolina last year, but was unable to cover the spread. This is the first time since 2012 that either team was favored by a touchdown or more and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
The wheels have come off in Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 5-0 start this season and now find themselves on the outside looking in on the NFC playoff picture. At 6-6, it will take three and maybe four wins in the final four weeks in order to crash the playoff party. This will not be an easy task seeing as how they have to play Carolina twice and also the Saints during that time. Dan Quinn, the new Falcons head coach, has been a very positive personality during this time and I do believe that he is doing a great job with the players that he has been dealt, especially on defense, however, after this weeks loss to Tampa, he made some comments that sounded as if he is ready to clean house and get rid of a few players on the roster. As a Falcons fan, I am still liking the Dan Quinn hire and I think he will be around for quite awhile, but there will be some growing pains along the way. Now, onto the elephant in the room for the Atlanta FalconsMatt Ryan. Ever since he played his first game in 2008, I have been a huge Matt Ryan fan and supporter. In 2012, he had the Falcons just a few yards away from a Super Bowl appearance but since that time something is not right. In 2013 and 2014, Ryan had no running game nor O line to help him. This year, the offensive line has improved even though it still is not a good line, they have been serviceable. The running game is back in a big way with second year player, Devonta Freeman carrying the load. Matt Ryan in 2015 has passed for 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. And the interceptions are bad, really bad. Matt Ryan has thrown 5 picks in the red zone and also threw an inexplicable pick six against the Colts that helped Indy get the late win. I will write this off as a bad year for Matty Ice, but if it does not improve fast, Atlanta may need to look for a new QBas crazy as that sounds. Anyhow, the key this weekend is to NOT TURN THE BALL OVER! It has killed the Falcons all season and you can ask the Dallas Cowboys how turning the ball over against Carolina ends up. If the Falcons do not protect the ball, Carolina could win this thing by 20+.
Carolina is 12-0 and it is not crazy to think that they could run the table. They have two games against the Falcons who cannot seem to beat anyone now and then they get to take on the Giants and Buccaneers. All very winnable games. Carolina is 2015 has been a legit contender. The first four or five weeks of the season I did not think they had really played a tough schedule but now there is nothing you can say except, these guys are for real. Carolina has a top ten scoring defense and are tied for second in the entire NFL in scoring offense averaging 31 points per game. This weekend could be just a business as usual approach against the Falcons. Cam Newton normally shows up against Atlanta because that was where he was born and raised so he has a bit of something to prove anytime he faces the birds. The key to winning this game is just play the game and do not make mistakes. Carolina dug themselves a hole against the Saints this past Sunday but were able to come back and win in the end. If they go down 14-0 to Atlanta, I actually have faith that Atlanta could hold on simply because they have a decent defense. Win the turnover battle and win the game.
This is one of those games that I have a crazy gut feeling over. I think Atlanta wins a close one or Carolina wins a blowout. Nothing more, nothing less. The public is on Carolina and it seems like an easy bet. Atlanta has not won in over a month and they always seem to find a way to shoot themselves in the foot late in the game. However, with that said, I do think Atlanta is talented and can keep this game close. Actually, I am calling the upset of the weekend. Atlanta will beat Carolina 23-21 on a late field goal and it will set up another great showdown between these two teams in just a few weeks.
Bobs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE ATLANTA FALCONS +7.5
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