Panthers vs. Falcons Odds, NFL Picks, Predictions: Can You Trust Atlanta To Cover Sunday’s Spread?
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Pitts.
- In search of Panthers vs. Falcons odds? We've outlined the spread and over/under in our guide to betting this Week 8 NFL matchup.
- The Panthers are a different team without Christian McCaffrey -- and their defense isn't as good as the numbers may indicate.
- Our analyst examines this NFC South showdown below, complete with his case for betting the Falcons to cover.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
After a surprising 25-3 loss last week to the Giants on the road, the Panthers look to bounce back at Mercedes Benz Stadium against the Falcons.
The Panthers (3-4) could not put together any momentum on offense in last week’s loss, resulting in the benching of starter Sam Darnold in favor of backup P.J. Walker once the game became out of hand. The Falcons (3-3), meanwhile, are coming off a big 30-28 victory over the Dolphins following a late Younghoe Koo field goal with just two minutes left on the clock.
Facing a struggling Panthers team, can we count on the Falcons to take care of business in this NFC South bout?
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Panthers vs. Falcons Injury Report
- WR Terrance Marshall (concussion): Out
- DE Darryl Johnson (hamstring): Out
- LB Shaq Thompson (foot): Questionable
- CB CJ Henderson (shoulder): Questionable
Panthers vs. Falcons Matchup
|Panthers Offense||DVOA Rank||Falcons Defense|
|Panthers Defense||DVOA Rank||Falcons Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Can Struggling Panthers Offense Succeed?
After a hot start to the season that yielded an impressive 1,189 passing yards, five passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns, Darnold’s season has gone rapidly downhill.
Since Week 4, he’s accounted for just two total touchdowns and thrown three interceptions.
While the Falcons’ 30th-ranked defense poses a potential bounce-back spot, the Panthers need a seismic shift in production to take advantage — over their last three outings, they’ve averaged just 16.3 points per game and have turned the ball over seemingly at will. Per The Football Database, their -5 turnover differential is fifth-worst in the NFL.
Given Darnold’s recent struggles, we’ll likely see the Panthers lean heavily on the run game against the Falcons’ poor rush defense. While Chuba Hubbard has filled in admirably for Christian McCaffrey, averaging 82 all-purpose yards in CMC’s absence, the Panthers have struggled to put points on the board without their star back.
Kyle Pitts & Calvin Ridley Could Have Big Game For Falcons
Following a 1-3 start, the Falcons have suddenly won two in a row and find themselves squarely in the NFC wild-card discussion heading into Week 8.
Much of the turnaround can be attributed to the play of quarterback Matt Ryan, who after a slow start is suddenly performing like he did in his prime. Over the last three games, Ryan has thrown for 961 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception.
While the Panthers’ 11th-ranked defense appears to be a tough matchup on paper, this unit has struggled of late, allowing 29 points per game to opponents over its last four outings. That includes losses to two teams that have otherwise struggled offensively in the Eagles and Giants.
While star receiver Calvin Ridley has yet to show that alpha WR1 talent most expected, he’s more than capable of exploiting this matchup. Per PFF’s WR/CB Matchup tool, Ridley has a matchup advantage against each of his primary defenders in this one, particularly cornerback Keith Taylor, against whom Ridley projects to see on 32% of his offensive snaps.
Tight end Kyle Pitts also stands out in his matchup with a 54% matchup advantage against his projected primary defenders.
The Panthers’ 19th-ranked rush defense is also something the Falcons are poised to exploit. Given that matchup advantage, expect Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone to find creative ways to involve Cordarrelle Paterson, who is averaging 88 all-purpose yards per game and stands out as their most dynamic weapon to date this season.
Panthers vs. Falcons Picks
While the Panthers were something of an early-season revelation for many, the current version of this team is a far cry from what we saw in September.
Not only has Darnold regressed to the level of play we saw while he was with the Jets, but the Panthers are also not the same team without McCaffrey on the field. The high level of turnovers over these past few weeks has only exacerbated the issue.
The Falcons defense, while not elite by any measure, is very capable of exploiting these weaknesses at home in a game that suddenly very much matters for the NFC playoff picture.
Offensively, Atlanta has also found its stride, averaging 29 points per game over its last three. As highlighted above, this Carolina defense is also more vulnerable than the current rankings indicate, so I expect plenty of opportunities for Ryan and Co. in this one.
At -3, the current line suggests that this would be a pick-em in a neutral field environment. That’s not the case — the Falcons are the better team at this moment in time. Take them at -3 before the line shifts up.
Pick: Falcons -3 | Bet to: -3
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