The Atlanta Falcons (5-7) will visit the Carolina Panthers (5-7) for a Week 14 NFC South battle this Sunday.
This is a rather unimportant game, outside of potential draft positioning, as Matt Ryan and Cam Newton are leading a couple of middling teams. Atlanta dropped a home game to Tampa last week while Carolina is coming off of two straight losses.
While Atlanta feels like the better team, the Panthers are laying three points at home in this matchup.
But does that mean we auto-bet the short home favorite? Or are we buying the Falcons and the points in this spot? Let’s dig in.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday, December 10.
Falcons vs Panthers Prediction
Both of these teams are missing key players at the skill positions.
The Panthers will be without star running back Christian McCaffrey for the rest of the season after he suffered an ankle injury in Week 12 and was placed on IR ahead of the team’s Week 13 bye.
Meanwhile, the Falcons haven’t had star wide receiver Calvin Ridley since late October after he stepped away from football to work on his mental health.
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Given the key absences and other injury issues for both teams, I believe we’re in for a rock fight in Carolina on Sunday. Points were already at a premium, given these two are the worst offenses in the NFL, but that becomes even more true with key skill players out on both sides.
This will be an almost unwatchable affair, so it’s important to get some skin in the game.
Prediction: Falcons 20, Panthers 14
Falcons vs Panthers Best Bets
Best Bet: Under 41.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
Sharp money has hammered this under, pushing it down from a lookahead opener of 48.5 and the Monday opener of 43.5. Given what I laid out above, I love the under for this game.
These teams are a combined 14-10 to the under this season, and the under has hit in seven of the last 10 matchups between the two teams, including the game these two played in Week 8. Carolina won that contest 19-13.
The offensive output of these two teams is truly pathetic. Atlanta is 26th in passing DVOA and 31st in rushing DVOA, while Carolina is 19th in rushing DVOA and 31st in passing DVOA. Plus, Carolina is in for more pain in the passing game with Cam Newton under center.
In fact, only Houston has been less efficient in the passing game than Carolina this season, per EPA per play, while the Falcons have been just as inefficient in the running game.
Per EPA per play, the Panthers have been one of the least efficient passing teams while the Falcons have been one of the least efficient rushing teams. Image credit: rbsdm.com
Both defenses aren’t especially talented, but both can hold their own. This is particularly true of the Panthers, who are rather strong in the front seven.
All-in-all, this is a game that should be played in the thirties, making the under our NFL pick of the day.
I’d be comfortable playing this total all the way down to 41.
Best Bet: Falcons +2.5 (-105) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
In what I expect to be a low-scoring matchup, I’ll happily take the points with the Falcons.
However, I also like this play because of the quarterback situation. Newton is a shell of himself, but Ryan is still playing well despite a horrendous offensive line.
Moreover, I think the Newton-led Panthers are broken. Sam Darnold was bad, but Newton is still adjusting to the offense and lacks the ability to effectively pass the ball. Newton certainly helps with the ground game, but he’s not an upgrade in any way.
Given that, I’d even take a shot on the Falcons Moneyline at +130 or better. I believe the Panthers are an unstable, high-variance team with Newton under center, and they could easily drop a home game to a statistically worse team.
I like the Falcons and the points in this spot.