Falcons vs. Panthers Odds, Predictions, Picks: Cam Newton, Carolina Have Edge To Cover NFL Week 14 Spread
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Newton.
- There's a new offensive coordinator in Carolina. Will that be enough in a must-win game between NFC South rivals?
- Our analyst examines the latest Falcons vs. Panthers odds in order to make his predictions and picks for this NFL Week 14 matchup.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers carry identical 5-7 records into this Week 14 matchup and are clinging to a chance at the last NFC playoff spot. Both are trending in the wrong direction and need to win this game to start a late-season push.
The Falcons have lost three of their last four games and don’t have a win against a team with a record over .500. Carolina, meanwhile, has lost three of its last four games and hasn’t won a home game since beating New Orleans 26-7 in Week 2.
With just five weeks left in the regular season, this NFC South battle is essentially an elimination game. Let’s break down which struggling team bettors should back on Sunday in Charlotte.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Falcons vs. Panthers Injury Report
- OLB Adetokunbo Ogundeji (ankle): Questionable
- S Richie Grant (ankle): Questionable
- G John Miller (ankle): Out
- G Michael Jordan (hamstring): Out
- RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle): Out for season
Falcons vs. Panthers Matchup
|Falcons Offense||DVOA Rank||Panthers Defense|
|Falcons Defense||DVOA Rank||Panthers Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Falcons Struggle Against Strong Opposition
Few of the Falcons’ five wins could be considered “quality.” Those have come against the Giants, Jets, Dolphins (on a last-second field goal early in the season), Saints and Jaguars.
Only the road victory over New Orleans looks impressive, and now Atlanta faces a Carolina front seven that ranks among the NFL leaders with 2.7 sacks per game.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has also seen a dip in production, throwing for fewer than 200 yards in three of his past four games. Without Calvin Ridley, the Falcons playmakers continue to remain limited. No one on the Atlanta roster has hit 50 catches on the season, with most of the production coming from tight end Kyle Pitts and converted running back Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson has been incredible during his improbable breakout campaign at 30 years old. His nine total touchdowns rank sixth-best among running backs. Pitts, meanwhile, has enjoyed a historically strong rookie tight end season, but he has scored just one touchdown this year.
Atlanta’s offensive line has struggled all season, severely limiting the running game. Atlanta ranks dead-last in power running success rate, per Football Outsiders, allowing defenses to focus on stopping an already limited passing attack.
Panthers Offense Could Get Boost vs. Atlanta
Carolina is also coming off its bye week and returns home against a divisional rival for a game it needs to win for its playoff hopes.
Quarterback Cam Newton played poorly two weeks ago against Miami, but the Falcons defense won’t generate anywhere near the same pressure rate as the Dolphins. Carolina’s offensive line has struggled all year, allowing 31 sacks, but Atlanta’s pass rush ranks dead last in the NFL with just 1.3 sacks per game.
Newton should play much better against a team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
The Panthers notably changed offensive coordinators during their bye week, replacing Joe Brady with running backs coach Joe Nixon. Carolina is looking to jumpstart an offense that has underperformed despite talented receiving options. I expect the Panthers to bring a different scheme to Sunday’s game, providing another advantage against a poor Atlanta defense.
The Panthers lost All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey for the season due to an ankle injury, but they have quality backups in Chuba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah. Hubbard started in Carolina’s 19-13 Week 8 win at Atlanta, tallying 82 yards and a touchdown, while Abudullah has been a successful receiving option out of the backfield, catching three or more passes in three of the past five games.
Falcons vs. Panthers Predictions, Picks
This line opened at Carolina -3.5 and fell as low as -2 before settling at -2.5 and -3 across books (check real-time NFL odds here). This game is a battle between squares and sharps, with 60% of the bets on Atlanta but 64% of the money on the Panthers at time of writing.
I am going with the sharps here, and taking the Panthers minus the small number at home.
I see the Falcons struggling in a road game, played outdoors, without Ridley and against a solid Panthers defense. Look for the Panthers offense to be improved after the coaching change, which leads me to back the favorite and lay less than a field goal.
Pick: Panthers -2.5 | Bet to: -3
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