Carolina Panthers (11-4 SU, 9-6 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (9-6 SU, 6-9 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, December 31st, 4:25pm ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
by Bob, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +3 / ATL -3
Over/Under Total: 45.5
This Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the most important games of the NFL season will be taking place when the Carolina Panthers come into town to take on the Atlanta Falcons. Every team with playoff hopes or any team already in the playoffs will be paying attention to this game because when it is all said and done, it is this showdown that will shape the landscape of the NFC Playoffs. There could potentially be three, yes three, NFC South teams representing in the playoffs. The Saints and Panthers have already clinched a playoff spot but the division title is still up for grabs and the Falcons still have a shot to clinch the 6th seed in the playoffs.
So how does this all pan out? Simple. For the New Orleans Saints, just win. If the Saints win, they are NFC South Champions and will have at least one home game in the NFC playoffs. For the Panthers, if they win at Atlanta and the Saints lose, the Panthers are NFC South champs while the Saints will settle with a wild card. For the Falcons…win and you are in. Lose and you need Seattle to lose at home to Arizona in order to get in. The Falcons best bet is just win.
With all this at stake, the Atlanta Falcons are a three point favorite at home over the Panthers while the total points are set at 45.5. Early on, the Panthers are getting a majority of the action. 61% of the betting is on Carolina to go on the road and cover while just 39% thinks the Falcons will cover. I am very familiar with this rivalry and I know one thing…it is going to be PHYSICAL.
Typically I like to talk about stats, how teams play on the road or at home, or who has the better defense but in this game, I can see it going either way. Throw the stats out because this is not only a division game, it is a HUGE rivalry. Cam Newton even said before this season started that his offseason is always better when they beat the Falcons. He is an Atlanta native and always plays some of his best games in Atlanta. The first time these teams met this season, Carolina won by a 20-17 score and yet again it was one of those games the Atlanta Falcons SHOULD have won. Again, it was penalties at bad times and a huge wide open touchdown that was dropped by Julio Jones. The Falcons all season long have been inconsistent and this Sunday, that has to stop or the season is over.
In order for Atlanta to win this game they must stop the run and also contain Cam Newton. Cam is going to have some designed runs and there will also be moments when no one is open and he improvises with his legs. The Falcons defense must keep him contained and not let Newton keep drives alive time and time again. On offense, mistakes must be kept to a minimum. Flags, turnovers, dropped passes, and whatever else has gone wrong for the Falcons needs to take a backseat this Sunday and they need to clean things up and again become the offense they were a year ago.
For Carolina, the game plan is simple…keep Atlanta’s offense off the field. If the Panthers can control the ball and force Atlanta’s offense into punting situations and turnovers, they could end the Falcons season by 7:00pm this Sunday. How do they do this? First off, stop the run. Carolina will need to contain Devonte Freeman and force Matt Ryan to beat them with his arm. Not that Ryan cannot do this, but the offensive line has not played great as of late and the Falcons wide receivers have been dropping passes quite a bit. The Panthers have a much better chance to win forcing the Falcons to pass the ball than to let Freeman and Coleman run wild all day.
This is a very tough game to predict. As much as I want Atlanta to win, I have a feeling this just is not their season. I believe the Carolina Panthers come into Mercedes-Benz Stadium and win this game 23-21 over the Falcons on their way to the playoffs while leaving the Falcons to pray that Seattle loses to the Arizona Cardinals.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE CAROLINA PANTHERS +3 AGAINST THE FALCONS – We care about our readers! And THAT is why we promote the hell out of Intertops! Online since the 90’s, never a payout complaint, 50/100% bonus offers, live betting, fast payouts and the best player loyalty program on the web which gives you points every time you bet. Redeem these points for free bets. It’s continuous. It never expires and there’s no limit to how many rewards you can receive! Get signed up TODAY to start reaping the benefits!