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Falcons Favored vs Panthers Despite Ugly Opening-Night Showing

Watching the Falcons offense on opening night was like watching a Ferrari drive in first gear on the freeway. The horsepower was there, but they were slow-moving and sputtered out every time they showed promise against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Despite the frustrating display, Bovada has them pegged as a 5-point favorite at home vs the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. The Panthers are coming into the game with a win against the Cowboys in the opening week. Their offense also looked subpar, but their defense stood tall and held the Cowboys to nothing but a fourth-quarter TD in the 16-8 victory. The total for this divisional matchup is 44.0, which judging by the offenses that were on display in Week 1 may be right where the value is.

SHARK BITES
  • The Panthers are 2-8 SU and ATS in their last 10 games on the road against the Falcons (avg. losing margin 12).
  • The Falcons are 14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games at home in September (avg. win margin 12.7).
  • The total has gone UNDER in the Falcons’ last eight games (avg. combined score: 33.38).

Panthers vs Falcons Game Center

Fade Steve Suck-isian, take the UNDER

Do you remember the Ferrari reference I made earlier? The incompetent driver at the wheel of that luxury car is Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons offensive coordinator. In 2016 when Kyle Shanahan held the reins to their offense, they were the best offensive team in football and were as close to a Super Bowl win as a team can get. Since Sarkisian has taken over, the offense has sputtered. Atlanta went from 33.8 points per game in 2016 under Shanahan to 22.1 points per game in 2017. It’s been ugly at times and downright blood-boiling for Falcons fans to watch. In their last eight games, they have hit the UNDER every single time. That means if you blindly faded Sarkisian’s offense with $100 bets during that stretch, you’d be up $742.22.

The defense for both teams is strong, only allowing a combined 26 points in their opening-week games. They both finished in the top 10 of the NFL last season in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. Furthermore, the UNDER has hit eight of the last 10 times that these two teams have met, with an average combined score of 42.8

The Falcons have dominated the Panthers at home

Over the past five seasons, the Falcons have gotten the better of the Panthers when they played in Atlanta. If you remember when the Panthers had a run at an undefeated season in 2015, it was the 8-8 Falcons who crushed their dreams in Week 16 with a 20-13 upset. The Falcons have beaten them SU in eight of their last 10 meetings, and covered the spread each time as well. The games haven’t been very close either, with an average winning margin of 12 points in those eight wins.

The Panthers have struggled on the road, not just against the Falcons but against the entire NFC South. They’re 1-7 SU in their last eight games when they’re away from home against divisional opponents.

Lots of question marks heading into Week 2 for both teams

Despite the Falcons’ recent success against the Panthers, they showed too many worrying signs in Week 1 for me to bank on that trend and put my money on them this time. They may be without two of their best defensive players as Keanu Neal has been announced as out for the season, and LB Deion Jones missed practice on Monday with a foot injury. I will need to see their offense kick back into gear before I’ll be willing to put any kind of wager on them to win this season.

The Panthers also have a couple of key injuries that will affect them heading into this game. Offensive weapon Greg Olsen left the game against the Cowboys with an injury and starting right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. Both players are questionable this week. The Panthers also may have won against Dallas, but they didn’t look pretty doing it. The Cowboys lost the game more than the Panthers won it.

I can’t give a recommendation to bet on either team to win this matchup because there are just too many things we aren’t sure about with these clubs. However, with the offensive issues that both teams are suffering, and the history of the UNDER hitting when they meet up, I’m leaning heavy on the UNDER in this Week 2 divisional matchup.