Hey folks, I am back at it. I am already salivating looking at the NFL action on tap for this coming Sunday. The most interesting game I see on the schedule is taking place at 1:00 pm EST in Charlotte, North Carolina.
When I say most interesting, we all know what I really mean. I am talking about the game with the most betting upside of course. That’s why you are here, reading this blog. You want the data and details that will lead you to the promise land.
Fortunately for you, you don’t have to do any homework on this game. That is where I come in. I took the time, I did my due diligence. I have all the juicy information you need to attack this game from a betting perspective. Alright, that’s enough babbling about stuff that won’t win you the money.
Let’s dive into the game. What should we be looking for?
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-3)
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
When: Sunday 11/5 1:00 pm EST
Opening Line: Carolina -1 O/U – 44 points
Anytime we see two divisional foes pitted against each other, we are going to be in for a hard-fought game. It is especially enticing when both teams are fighting for a playoff spot. Throw in the fact that these two squads flat-out don’t like each other and we should be in for a real treat come Sunday.
Let’s get started with the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
It has been an up and down year for the defending NFC champs thus far. After storming out of the gates to a 3-0 start, Matt Ryan and company have stumbled. They unexpectedly lost a game at home to an improved Buffalo Bills team, but that wasn’t the end of the world. The team still felt good at 3-1 heading into their bye week.
The performance the Falcons put on after their off week is what really got me scratching my head. They were leading the less than stellar Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime and appeared to be back on track. What ensued over the final 30 minutes of the game was just atrocious from an execution standpoint.
Atlanta not only failed to score a single point in front of their home fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the second half, but they allowed the Dolphins to come back and win the game, 20-17. Losing a game in that type of fashion against a depleted offensive unit was bad enough. Doing it at home, in their new stadium- that’s what really upset their fans.
Unfortunately, The Falcons had to forget about this devastating loss quickly as they had to travel to Foxborough for a Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots. This did not go well for Dan Quinn’s team as the Pats thumped the Falcons 23-7 in front of the millions of eyes tuned into Sunday Night Football on national television.
The Falcons were hurting. Losers of 3 consecutive games and only scoring 41 points over those 3 games, Atlanta needed to turn things around. Thankfully, playing the New York Jets next up on their schedule was a good recipe to get the ship pointed in the right direction.
Despite struggling against the dreadful Jets, a 25-20 victory was a victory nonetheless. So, after these up and down performances through their first 7 games, what have we really found out about a team that lost a 25-point lead in last year’s Super Bowl? Which version of the team is going to show up in Carolina this weekend?
The way they Falcons team has looked over the past month or so, I have a hard time putting a lot of faith into how they will perform, especially on the road in a divisional game. I don’t think Atlanta is necessarily having a “Super Bowl Hangover” like many reporters and analysts have pointed out. I think losing you offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is hurting the offense more than most people had anticipated.
Reigning MVP has looked, well not like an MVP that’s for sure. Ryan ranks 10th in QBR after leading the NFL in that category a year ago. Star wideout Julio Jones has only 1 touchdown on the season. Atlanta led the league last season by a wide margin, scoring an average of 34.1 points per contest. Remove play-caller Kyle Shanahan from the picture and I am looking at a team scoring under 22 points a game, ranking just 16th in the NFL.
The Falcons team was built for speed and built to put up points. If their offense remains in the middle of the pack in multiple offensive categories, the Falcons won’t be making a trip to the Super Bowl again this season. The way I see it, they will be fortunate to even squeak into the playoffs.
A win this week in Carolina would sure go a long way to making that a possibility. I am just not sure I see it happening. Not with all the firepower the Panthers have on both sides of the ball. Speaking of the Panthers, let’s take a closer look at the home team this weekend. What will Ron Rivera’s team try to do this weekend against the Falcons? How will that affect how we should attack the betting?
The Carolina Panthers are in a good position. If the season ended today, they would be one of the two NFC Wild Card teams. Carolina is looking to improve their resumé on Sunday by adding another game to their winning column.
The Falcons came into Bank of America Stadium last year on Christmas Eve and manhandled the Panthers 33-16. Cam Newton was stifled, as he was held to under 200 yards passing yards on a paltry 41.8% completion percentage.
The good news for the Panthers is their offense has an entirely new look this time around. They traded their best wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills just minutes before Tuesday’s 4:00 pm EST trade deadline. They have already been without stud tight end Greg Olsen after #88 broke his right foot during the game against the Bills back in week 2.
You must be wondering why Carolina would trade away their top pass catcher for two draft picks (3rd and 7th rounds)? Obviously, they must have something in mind.
I took a closer look at what the Panthers have been doing on offense so far this season and it all became clear. Kelvin Benjamin had fewer targets and fewer receptions than 3rd-year player Devin Funchess. Devin’s 6’4” 225 lbs frame makes him a nice, big target for Newton to look for in the red zone.
Funchess’s ability to stretch the field and make big plays certainly played a key factor in moving on from Benjamin. The emergence of rookie running back Christian McCaffrey has really allowed offensive coordinator Mike Shula to expand the playbook.
Despite being listed as a running back, McCaffrey has been featured almost exclusively in the passing game. Not only does the rookie out of Stanford University lead all running backs and rookies in receptions this season, his 49 catches through week 8 trails only Antonio Brown and Jarvis Landry.
The Panthers have made it a point to the get ball into their young playmaker’s hands early and often. They will need to employ this strategy against the incredibly speedy linebacking core of the Falcons. Getting McCaffrey the ball in open space will be a key to look out for this Sunday.
If Atlanta is able to clog up the backfield and not allow Christian to run loose, it could be a long day for the Panthers offense. If Cam Newton is able to spread the ball around and find his key pass catchers in open space, I expect Carolina to be able to put up plenty of points.
That transitions me perfectly into the betting section of this blog. Now that I told you a bit about the two teams seasons and what they like to try and do on the field- let’s see how this will all play out on Sunday. How will everything that has happened up to this point affect how we bet the game?
After studying these two teams, I came to a conclusion: the line is tight for a reason. The line that opened as the Panthers being 1-point favorites has held fairly steady early on in the week. I have seen little to no movement across the betting sites, with a few of them shifting the line to Carolina -1.5. Either the heavy money (sharp bettors) hasn’t come in yet or the teams are that evenly matched and both sides are getting action.
The line I want to attack this Sunday isn’t that 1 or 1.5 number. It’s the O/U that is between 43-44 depending on which online betting site you visit.
Pounding the over this week is going to be our best opportunity to make some money. Let me tell you a few of the reasons I think this game has a very good chance at being a shootout. I don’t want to make this about biased opinions, so let’s just look at the actual facts.
These two teams are both fighting for playoff spots. The teams don’t particularly like one another, so we know the intensity level will be rocking. Carolina’s defense has been stout this year and Atlanta’s offense has not. So why do I like the over?
The Falcons defense has given up 20 or more points each and every week since holding the incompetent Bears offense to 17 points way back in week 1. The Panthers offense will be flying around at home in front of 75,000 screaming fans. I know the Panthers are going to put up points.
Carolina is 6th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game so I don’t expect Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to get going on the ground. What I do expect is Matt Ryan to be forced to sling the ball around at least 40 times this week.
So, let’s take stock in what appears could take place.
Panthers offense rolling at home against a defense that can’t stop anybody. That equals points.
Falcons may be trailing early and be forced to throw the ball to get back into the game. That also equals points.
The Atlanta team has too many weapons and speed on offense to not be able to at least put a dent into the Panthers’ defense. If the Falcons scored 48 points and 33 points in the two games vs the Panthers last year, I think we can count on them for at least 24 this week.
There you have it. The Atlanta Falcons at the Carolina Panthers week 9 game proves to be a thrilling one. Anytime we see a divisional matchup with teams that don’t fancy one another, we can expect a lot action come Sunday.
I expect to not only see high-quality football being played but look for emotions and tempers to flare up on the field and on the sidelines. When I see two teams that I know will be fighting hard, I look at what the two teams like do on each side of the ball.
The evidence I see leads me to believe that points will be scored in this game. I have watched a lot of football and 43 points just seems like too low of a number for a game led by Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.
The fact that I expect the Panthers to be able to move the ball up and down the field at will only confirm my belief that the Falcons will have no choice but to try and throw the ball and play catch up. More passing attempts leads to more opportunities created to score points. Targeting the over means I want to see points.
That’s exactly what I expect to see this Sunday in Charlotte. Enjoy the game and good luck betting!
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