Opening Line: Panthers -3
Time: 1 PM EST Sunday October 2, 2016 on FOX
Carolina Panthers (1-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
What is up with the Panthers? The defending NFC champion only lost one game last season, but they already have two losses early going this season. In their one win they put up 46 points, but in the two losses they have combined for 30 points including only scoring 10 last week.
Carolina does have the league’s 3rd ranked rushing offense, but they are not getting key runs. They lead the league in 3rd and long situations and QB Cam Newton has just as many picks (5) as TD’s (5).
Atlanta has won two straight after losing their season opener and while they are suspect on defense they lead the league averaging 34.7 ppg. Matt Ryan and company will be facing a Carolina defense that has struggled so far on the season giving up at least 21 points in each of their first three games.
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In their last games the Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints 45-32 and the Panthers lost to the Minnesota Vikings 22-10.
This season Carolina is 1-2 ATS with an O/U record of 2-1 and Atlanta is 2-1 ATS with an O/U record of 3-0.
Last season’s only loss in the regular season for the Panthers came at the hands of the Falcons in Atlanta.
Ryan has been solid so far on the season passing for 970 yards with seven TD and only one pick. It helps to have a very deep WR corps led by star Julio Jones. The Falcons also have something they have not had in several seasons in a rushing attack with Devonta Freeman ranking 4th in the league in rushing yards and averaging over six yards per carry.
The Panthers rank a solid 5th in the league defending the pass and 11th defending the run, but they have been giving up big plays and they have to avoid that facing Ryan and his many weapons on the outside.
One of the reasons Newton has been struggling is the play of the offensive line, as he has been sacked 12 times already on the season. He does have lead target TE Greg Olson and WR’s Kelvin Benjamin and Tedd Ginn Jr, but he has to have time to find them. He may just have that in this game facing an Atlanta defense that only has three sacks. The Panthers need to get back to running the ball week and in the loss to Minnesota they struggled on that area on offense. The Falcons only rank 29th in the league defending the pass and 22nd defending the run.
- Carolina is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 road games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss, and they have an Over record of 13-5 in their last 18 road games.
- Atlanta is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games, 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games overall, and they have an Under record of 6-1 in their last 7 home games.
- The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 games between these teams.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Free NFL Prediction
The Falcons fell asleep allowing two bombs for TDs in the third quarter against the Bucs falling behind 31-13 but they did rally but feel short 31-24. Since then they’ve been an offense that should be feared in the league scoring 80 points. Don’t start planning the parade just yet though. The Atlanta defense has been porous allowing 30 points a game. Some bettors may let those defensive numbers drive them to the windows backing the Panthers, but we think that’s the wrong bet here. The Falcons were the only team last season to beat them and they did it right here in the Georgia Dome knocking them off 20-13. Now Atlanta is on a short week after playing the Saints on Monday night and Carolina is desperate for a win, but all logic points to the host getting the victory. The Panthers have one win on the season and that came on home filed against the lowly 49ers and are laying 3 points to a division foe who got the win in the last meeting on the same field? Why would you bet Carolina?
Take the Atlanta Falcons +3