Panthers vs. Falcons Pick 12/8/19

by | Dec 3, 2019 | nfl

Carolina Panthers (5-7 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date/Time: Sunday December 8th, 2019. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, G.A.

Point Spread: CAR +2.5/ATL -2.5 (5Dimes)
Over/Under Total: 48

The Carolina Panthers suffered another setback last week, which has led to speculation that the Ron Rivera regime could be on its last leg. After losing three straight games, the Panthers were 10.5 point favorites at home against the 2-9 SU Washington Redskins. After jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, the Redskins mounted an unexpected comeback thanks to largely in part to turnovers to hand the Panthers a 29-21 defeat and extending the losing streak to 4 straight games. With a difficult schedule ahead, the Panthers best opportunity to score a W will come this Sunday when they go into Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a meeting with the 3-9 SU Atlanta Falcons.

Falcons injuries for week 14

There is no way to describe the Atlanta Falcons 2019 other than disappointing. The Falcons lost 7 of their first eight games thanks to struggles on both sides of the ball. In recent weeks, Atlanta has also been plagued with injuries to their most valuable assets. Running back Devonta Freeman, TE Austin Hooper, QB Matt Ryan, and WR Julio Jones have not all been on the field together since week seven, which has definitely added to the frustration. However, the Falcons could have all of their stars back this week. WR Julio Jones missed a Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Saints due to a shoulder injury but is expected to play. Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman are both healthy.

Additionally TE Austin Hooper, who has missed the last three games, started practicing this week and is trending in the right direction. I know most people will view Julio’s return this week as a step forward for Atlanta, but Hooper led the NFL in receiving yards and touchdowns at the position before the injury. While he may not be the elite level talent compared to Julio Jones, his involvement in the offense is very critical towards Atlanta’s success. Therefore, it is encouraging that Atlanta could have all of their playmakers back for the first time in nearly two months.

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Turnovers continue to plague Carolina

If you remember, the Panthers week 11 home game against the Falcons raised a huge warning flag. After a somewhat expected loss in Green Bay the week prior, the Panthers returned home as 4 point favorites against the Falcons but were blown out in embarrassing fashion in a 29-3 meltdown. QB Kyle Allen threw four interceptions in the loss, and the Panthers offense struggled tremendously against one of the NFC’s worst defenses. Since that loss, the Panthers have never truly recovered. The Panthers played well at New Orleans, but three missed field goals by kicker Joey Slye eventually led to their demise. In last week’s loss to Washington, turnovers proved to be the story once again. Allen was picked off deep into Panthers territory and lost a fumble that set up a Redskins touchdown. Afterward, the Panthers could not find any momentum offensively.

The chain of events described above is exactly how this offense is played from week to week. At times, the Panthers have looked pretty good moving the football down the field. At other times, the offense has looked downright awful. I think Panthers fans would love to place blame on Allen because the turnovers have been troubling. However, the Panthers offensive line needs some responsibility as well. The offensive line failed to open holes for RB Christian McCaffrey against one of the league’s worst defenses last week, and Allen was sacked seven times throughout the game. Despite not starting until Week 3, Allen has been sacked 39 times on the season, which is the 3rd most among quarterbacks in 2019. Needless to say, the offensive line has to play better, and the turnovers have to be mitigated for the Panthers to turn things around.

Panthers vs. Falcons week 14 breakdown

The good news for Carolina fans is that QB Kyle Allen should have the opportunity to bounce back this week against a Falcons defense that is among the NFL’s worst in both pressure rate and sacks (1.5) per game. With that said, Atlanta did produce five sacks and four interceptions in the Week 11 blowout. Still, on paper, Carolina should have some advantages in the air where Kyle Allen will get an opportunity to exploit a Falcons defense that has relinquished 260 yards per game (26th in NFL). Both DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel provide advantageous match-ups along with the elusive threat of Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield.

Though the match-ups provide a winning opportunity, I think the narrative goes beyond paper match-ups. The Panthers are not executing, nor is this team playing to their potential. If the Falcons get all of their playmakers back, which is expected, this could be a spot where Matt Ryan and the offense gets things rolling. Even if the Panthers have some success on offense, I think we will likely see a similar trend to last week where they can not maintain the success for a full 60 minutes. Therefore, I am siding with the Falcons this week as I believe they can continue to frustrate Allen and get a boost from the return of their star players!

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Falcons -2.5