Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Betting Pick
The Carolina Panthers will meet the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday for an NFC South showdown at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons returned from a Week 6 bye to beat the Dolphins 30-28 last week. QB Matt Ryan threw for 336 yards for two touchdowns and one interception and also got some help from rookie TE Kyle Pitts who had a breakout game with seven catches for 163 yards. The victory was the Falcons' 2nd straight win and got the team back to the .500 mark on the season. Surprisingly, Atlanta will be small favorites for the 3rd straight week when they host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
While the Falcons are trending in the right direction, the Panthers are going in the opposite direction. After starting the year 3-0 SU, the Panthers have dropped four straight games, including four straight failures to cover the spread. The Panthers issues have been solely focused on the offensive side of the football. Running back, Christian McCaffrey, who is among the best overall threats in the league, has been sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury. McCaffrey will not be eligible to return until next week's match-up against the Patriots, and that is still contingent on the fact that McCaffrey is fully healed.
In McCaffrey's absence, the offense has relied heavily on QB Sam Darnold which has shed more light on the future of the Panthers' QB situation. Darnold has been awful, hitting just 57% passing over the last four games, including four touchdown passes compared to seven interceptions. The performances have been so bad that the Panthers have reportedly explored trade options with targets on Houston's Deshaun Watson and others. While we will have to wait to see if the Panthers conduct any moves before the trade deadline, the offense remains under the microscope going into the week eight showdown against the Falcons.
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Betting Preview
One promising note for the Panthers is that CB Stephon Gilmore is expected to make his debut this Sunday. Gilmore is the former Defensive Player of the Year that was released by the Patriots after starting the year on the PUP list. Despite the falling out with New England, Gilmore remains one of the top corners in the NFL and should provide immediate relief to a Panthers' defense that is already missing CB Jaycee Horn. Gilmore's return is noteworthy because it should provide an upgrade in the passing defense against a heavy pass-oriented offense in Atlanta.
Despite the 30-28 win last week against Miami, the Falcons still had issues at times moving the football. Running back Mike Davis was ineffective and was banged up. Falcons WR1 in Calvin Ridley did find the endzone but was held to just four catches for 26 yards. In fact, if it was not for the breakout performance from Kyle Pitts, the Falcons would be getting some of the same offensive scrutinies that have surrounded Carolina. For this week's match-up with Carolina, I am expecting the Falcons offense to have a difficult time against Carolina's pass rush. The Falcons offensive line is pretty terrible, and that sets up a nasty match-up against the strength of the Carolina defense.
Carolina at Atlanta Prediction 10/31/21
The problem with the difficult match-up for Atlanta is that it is not a reason to bet on the Panthers. We just watched the Carolina offense produce a measly 3 points in last week's 25-3 loss to the New York Giants, who were just 1-5 SU going into that contest. Personally, I have absolutely no faith in the Panthers' offense with Darnold behind center, especially with McCaffrey still on the shelf. As a result of those two premises, I believe we have ourselves a defensive battle that has serious value pivoting against the 47 point total. The Panthers have hit the "under" in eight of the last ten games, and I think that will be the play again this week!