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Falcons Flying High Heading Into Date With Panthers

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 8.

Atlanta (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) has won two straight and three of its last four to battle back to the .500 mark. The Falcons try to keep things going against the Panthers (3-4, 3-4), who have lost their last four following a 3-0 start. Atlanta has won and covered its last five home games against Carolina.

Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons
  • Date/Time: October 31, 1 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • TV Coverage: Fox
  • Opening Odds: Falcons -2.5 | O/U 48.5 (Line History)
  • Panthers vs Falcons Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

With Carolina on a four-game losing streak and the Falcons having won two straight, don’t be surprised if we see Atlanta favored by a field goal or more by kickoff. The early move, however, came on the UNDER with many sportsbooks dealing a total of 46 by Monday night.

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Carolina News & Notes

Head coach Matt Rhule has challenged his team to play with more intensity and desperation as it looks to pull out of an 0-4 SU and ATS funk.

“I don’t know if we realize the position we’re in,” Rhule told the Associated Press following Sunday’s 25-3 loss at the Giants. “(New York) had a sense of urgency that we did not have. We’ll find that this week. We have to find it this week.”

Rhule also pointed the finger at quarterback Sam Darnold, demanding more focus and better ball protection from the first-year Panther. Darnold was pulled in the fourth quarter against the Giants after completing 16 of 25 passes for just 111 yards and an interception, although Rhule has already assured reporters that Darnold will get the start again this week vs Atlanta.

With star back Christian McCaffrey expected to miss at least one more game due to injury, the pressure is on Darnold and the offense to finally start carrying its share of the load. The Panthers have gone UNDER the total in eight of their last 10, thanks in part to a defense that allowed only 302 yards last week to New York.

Atlanta News & Notes

After an 0-2 start, the Falcons have won and covered three of their last four games to fight back to the .500 mark for the first time in more than two years. Matt Ryan threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 30-28 win over the Dolphins, his second straight 300-yard outing.

Nearly half of Ryan’s yards last week went to rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who has 282 receiving yards and a touchdown in his last two games.

Ryan and the offense might need to keep putting up big numbers if Atlanta’s defense can’t tighten things up. The Falcons allowed Tua Tagovailoa to throw for a career-high four touchdowns and gave up 413 total yards, and their banged-up secondary took a few more hits as well. Two cornerbacks and a safety left the game with injuries, while cornerback Avery Williams missed his second straight with a hamstring injury.

How Carolina Will Cover

The one thing that has been consistent for the Panthers all year has been their defense, and their second-ranked secondary matches up well against Atlanta’s passing attack. Meanwhile, Darnold should be motivated to have a strong bounce-back performance with his starting job possibly on the line.

How Atlanta Will Cover

Ryan and the offense have been on fire lately, scoring at least 27 points in each of their last three games. If Atlanta hangs a similar number in this one, it’s hard to imagine Carolina’s struggling offense keeping pace.

Computer Pick: Falcons -2.5

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Shark Bites
  • Carolina is 0-4 SU and ATS in its last 4 games.
  • The UNDER is 8-2 in Carolina’s last 10.
  • Atlanta is 6-0 SU and ATS in its last 6 vs Carolina.