Bob Donnan, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Cam Newton (L) and Matt Ryan
Betting odds: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
- Spread: Falcons -5.5
- Over/Under: 44.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
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Betting market: This game has the market split: 50% of spread bettors were on each side at the time of writing. However, the bets on Atlanta have been substantially more sizable, as they account for 75% of the money (see live data here). —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: After losing to Philadelphia in Week 1, the Falcons return to Atlanta for their home opener on Sunday. Maybe it’s playing in front of their fans or the benefits associated with home-field advantage, but playoff teams from the previous season have gone 43-28-3 against the spread (61%) since 2003 in Week 2 home openers. — John Ewing
Cam Newton has excelled as an underdog in his career, going 29-19 ATS (+8.8 units), making him the third-most profitable quarterback as an underdog since he was drafted by the Panthers in 2011.
Furthermore, Cam is 8-6 straight-up (+9 units) as an underdog since 2015 — this after starting his career 11-22-1 SU as an underdog. — Evan Abrams
DFS edge: Even though the Panthers’ offensive line is banged up with Daryl Williams (knee) getting placed on IR, the Falcons’ defense may be in worse shape.
Linebacker Deion Jones (foot) and Keanu Neal are both on IR. The loss of Jones is huge considering he was PFF’s No. 1 LB in pass coverage last season.
This game sets up well for an elite pass-catching running back such as Christian McCaffrey, whose 80 receptions last year ranked 13th among running backs AND receivers. McCaffrey boasts the sixth-highest median projection among running backs on the main slate. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Falcons -5.5.
The Falcons may have had two of the most devastating injuries in Week 1. Atlanta’s defense had top-five potential, but losing Jones and Neal changes the unit’s ceiling.
That said, I don’t see those two injuries hindering the Falcons this week against a Panthers team also ravaged by injuries.
The Panthers’ O-line is a disaster right now. With the aforementioned Williams injury, Carolina will be without both of its starting tackles (Matt Kalil is also on IR). You can also add G Trai Turner to the injury list, as he’s officially listed as questionable (concussion).
Carolina will really miss TE Greg Olsen this week; he would have been able to help exploit the loss of Jones and Neal.
Olsen’s absence also really stings because of the underwhelming receivers Cam has at his disposal. They will have a tough time getting separation against Atlanta’s two excellent cover corners.
Carolina’s defense isn’t much better: Thomas Davis is suspended, and fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly is banged up.
The Panthers’ secondary is extremely vulnerable, which spells doom against a deep Atlanta receiving corps. Carolina will have to cover Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley with a rookie (Donte Jackson) and two corners (Captain Munnerlyn and James Bradberry) who received sub-50 grades from Pro Football Focus in 2017.
I think Matt Ryan will be laser focused after Atlanta’s loss in Week 1. Plus, the Falcons have a few extra days of prep.
I bet the Falcons -5.5, and I still like them if the line ticks back up to -6. — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.