The Carolina Panthers have now lost four games in a row, ruining a surprising 3-0 start. Quarterback Sam Darnold has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league during this slump.
Darnold was benched for poor performance in last week’s loss to the New York Giants, but head coach Matt Rhule has already stated that Darnold is starting this week. However, he remains on thin ice, especially with star quarterback Deshaun Watson available on the trade block.
There’s a chance that Darnold will be benched for good with another bad start or even replaced by Watson.
The Panthers go up against their division rival Atlanta Falcons, a team that has looked much better lately as winners of three of their last four. Quarterback Matt Ryan has gotten back on track and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts has been dominant.
This is a must-win game for the Panthers. They desperately need Darnold to find his early-season magic and take care of business on the road in Atlanta.
Please note that all odds are current as of 2:00 p.m. ET on Friday, October 29.
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Panthers vs Falcons Prediction
This is a get-right spot for Darnold. The Falcons have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 70.6% of their passes with 15 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season. Quarterbacks are also averaging over 263 yards per game against this defense.
The Panthers’ defense continues to be stout against the pass, limiting quarterbacks to only 214 yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt. They should be able to make life a bit more difficult for Matt Ryan in this spot.
While the Falcons have been playing better lately, their wins have come against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and New York Giants — three of the worst teams in the NFL. These wins have been by 2, 7, and 3 points, respectively.
Despite Darnold’s recent struggles, I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s looked lately. Look for him to come out with a much better performance after getting benched last game. The Panthers are the better team across the board, they just need Darnold to move the chains and protect the football to win this one.
Expect the Panthers to finally put an end to this losing streak and defeat the Falcons.
Prediction: Panthers 28, Falcons 21
Panthers vs. Falcons Best Bets
Best Bet: Panthers +3 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
I like that we’re getting the Panthers as slight underdogs as per our NFL gameday odds because I believe that they’re the better team here. This is an overreaction to Darnold’s recent struggles.
It’s also good that the point spread is at plus odds right now, as this allows you to get that key number at 3 points.
The Falcons defense has given up 28 or more points in four of six games this season. If Darnold can’t show some improvements in this exploitable matchup, you have to think that he’s headed for the bench.
I’d bet on a Darnold bounce-back.
Best Bet: Over 46.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
Starting with Week 1, Panthers games have combined for an average of 38.3 points, while Falcons games have gone for 51.8 points this season. This game has sneaky shootout potential given the Falcons vulnerability on defense and improvements on offense.
The total of 46.5 points isn’t too high of a bar to clear, especially since we’ve seen both of these teams play in shootouts a few times this season.
I’m willing to give Darnold one more chance at a bounce-back in this spot. Roll with the Over and make this your NFL bet of the day.
Frank Ammirante’s 2021 NFL Betting Record: 12-7, +9.27 Units
Thank you for reading our NFL Week 8 Panthers vs Falcons Predictions!