The Panthers come in having lost its last two games but have covered the spread in four of their last five with QB Teddy Bridgewater proving he can move the ball and put points on the board. The Falcons have found new historic ways to lose in at least three games this season but their only win came on the road at Minnesota, 40-23. Both their covers this season have come on the road, the other was at Dallas, the memorable 40-39 loss in Week 2.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Panthers -2.5 in their early lines last week and adjusted them to a -3 release on Sunday evening with a total set at 51. On Monday morning, the SuperBook dropped the number to Panthers -2.5 not because of money but because of the market where there were no 3’s available. The total also dropped down to 50. Circa Sports, a sharp bettors shop, has the total at a Las Vegas-low of 49.5.
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Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White has the Panthers (98.5) rated 1-point higher than the Falcons (97.5) on a neutral field and gives the Panthers 1-point for home field, more for the inconvenience of the Falcons traveling than the limited 5,200 fans allowed at the Panthers home games. The Falcons total rating is 26.5 while the Panthers are set at 23. By using his ratings, Kenny’s spread is Panthers -2 and the total is 49.5.
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The Falcons offense has been steady all season averaging 401 yard-per-game which ranks sixth in the NFL led by the third-ranked passing game (295 ypg). The running game has been led by Todd Gurley who has averaged 4 yards-per-carry totaling 485 yards and 7 touchdowns. They average 26.3 points-per-game and have only turned the ball over six times through seven games. This explosive offense winning only one game so far is one of the biggest mysteries of the 2020 season, but that mystery is what cost Dan Quinn his head coaching job after starting 0-5. Raheem Morris is 1-1 since taking over as the new head coach.
The Panthers average 369 ypg, 263 ypg through the air, and have and have been more diverse since All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey got hurt in Week 2. Back-up RB Mike Davis has filled in nicely with 284 yards rushing and 37 receptions for 233 yards. He’s second in receptions behind leading receiver Robby Anderson who has 46 catches for 640 yards. The offense has turned the ball over only eight times.
The Falcons defense allows 29.6 ppg and 425 ypg, 333 ypg through the air. Only the Seahawks defense gives up more yards. They’ve forced eight turnovers, but the secondary doesn’t get much help from a pass rush that averages only 1.4 sacks a game -- only five teams get fewer sacks.
One of those teams is the Panthers who are tied for the league-low with only six sacks through seven games. But somehow they still get the job done by allowing only nine TD passes and they’ve forced 10 turnovers. They rank No. 11 allowing 263 ypg through the air which will be a key area for them to control this week. In their Week 5 meeting, they held the Falcons to only 207 yards passing.
The Falcons had won and covered five straight meetings until the Panthers (+3) won, 23-16, at Atlanta in Week 5 this season which paid out +135 on the money-line. The Panthers outgained the Falcons, 437-373, with the Panthers throwing for 313 yards through the air. The game stayed under the total of 53.5. The under is 11-3-1 in their last 15 meetings and the home team is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 meetings.
The Panthers have not covered their last five Thursday night match-ups and they’re currently on a trend of going 1-5 ATS against losing teams. The Panthers are also on a run of going 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games. The Falcons have failed to cover in their last five games on grass, but are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games. They’ve stayed under the total in their last four Thursday night games.
Teddy Bridgewater should be cheap this week and had his best game of the season against the Falcons secondary completing 27 of 36 passes for 313 yards, two TDs, and no picks. D.J. Moore took a screen pass and ran it 57 yards for a TD and Anderson caught 8 passes for a game-high 112 yards.
Todd Gurley has carried the ball for at least 20 times in his last two games and has scored a TD in five of his seven starts, twice getting two TDs. He’s fumbled only once this season.
Falcons coach Raheem Morris after Sunday’s 23-22 loss to the Lions, a game they could have won by running the clock down to kick a field goal, but instead scored giving Matt Stafford and the Lions the ball back with just over a minute to go with no timeouts.
“It was talked about right at that moment,” Morris told reporters after the game “We knew that was kind of going to be their ideal choice for us to get in the end zone so they could have a chance to go down there and score.
So we wanted to take the knee on the 1, and he (Gurley) obviously tried and he fell into the end zone at the last second there, getting tripped up a little bit.”
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