Had it not been for the game two weeks ago between these teams, I don’t think anyone would have much excitement for tonight’s Panthers vs. Falcons matchup. Even with that game in mind, it’s still a tough one to get excited about. The best we can hope for is another shootout between two teams with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Atlanta comes into game as three-point favorites after a wild loss to the Chargers last week. As they have for most of the season, the Falcons will be looking to rely heavily on the running back committee. The group is led by veteran Cordarrelle Patterson, who returned from injury last week to run for 44 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. In week 8 against Carolina, Caleb Huntley and Tyler Allgeier split backfield duties and turned 30 rushes into 130 yards. That said, Mariota had season highs in yards and touchdowns through the air that game, so the pass attack may be used a little more than usual.
For Carolina, P.J. Walker is starting after being benched in last week’s loss to the Bengals. This can probably be attributed to his performance in Week 8 against Atlanta, as Walker threw for 317 yards and one touchdown. The one score wasn’t just an average touchdown, either. Instead, it was probably the throw of the season on a 62 yard pass to D.J. Moore with just seconds left on the clock. The problem for Carolina is consistency. If the Panthers can’t get the very best version of Walker tonight, the offence will most likely stall like they did last week. In the loss to the Bengals, Walker went 3/10 for 9 yards and threw two interceptions.
Falcons vs. Panthers – The Pick
Overall, we think tonight won’t be as close as Week 8’s game was. Patterson is back, and the Falcons are exceeding expectations a bit this year. We’ll take them to cover the spread in Carolina and force their divisional rivals to the brink of playoff elimination at 2-8.