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Falcons Favored Over Panthers in NFC South Showdown

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Week 17 Preview

When: Sunday, December 28th 2014 at 1:00pm ET
Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
Watch: FOX

The Atlanta Falcons 6-9 (7-8 ATS) kept their playoff hopes alive with a road win over the Saints (30-14). Now they have a chance to win the NFC South at home against the Carolina Panthers 6-8-1 (7-8 ATS) who come into this game on a 3-game winning streak.

It’s crazy that teams with such a poor record will be fighting it out for the division title in the final week of the regular season. I’m a little surprised that the point spread is so low with this game in Atlanta, but the Falcons have really struggled at home this year.

Panthers vs. Falcons Betting Lines

Bet on the Panthers vs. Falcons at Bovada (USA Allowed).

In the last couple years Carolina has owned Atlanta, which is why the point spread is only –3.5 in favor of the Falcons, but expect this line to go up, as over 90% of the early action is on the Falcons. The total seems high to me, but I’m betting on the spread instead.

CAR @ ATL Stats Pack

The Falcons are better offensively, especially with Julio Jones back in the mix after an injury kept him out briefly. Carolina is a better defensive team, but not really by much. They allow a lot fewer yards, but they give up a similar number of points as Atlanta.

Three Reasons to Bet on the Panthers

Jonathan Stewart has been the featured RB, as DeAngelo Williams has been injured, but he should be back. Stewart will still see the bulk of the carries, but Williams will add a nice boost. Carolina comes into this game averaging 122.8 RYPG (8th) on offense.

Atlanta gives up an average of 113.3 RYPG (18th) and the Panthers should be able to carve up 100+ yards on the ground. That’s going to keep their offense on the field longer and more importantly keep Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense sitting on the sidelines.

On paper the Panthers defense allows 228.0 PYPG (9th) and 115.3 RYPG (19th). In order to beat this team you need to be able to run the football. The Falcons have proven they can’t run at all, as the offense averages 95.7 RYPG (24th) and 288.5 PYPG (5th).

Matt Ryan is going to have to play great to win this game, as the run game won’t help him out at all. Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Jones are all active, but banged up and I’m not sure they’ll have enough in the tank to beat an improving Panthers secondary.

Since 2012 the Panthers are 3-2 in the H2H series, but in the two Atlanta wins they only won by two points each time. These teams know each other well and it isn’t often where one team wins by a lot, so the value is definitely with the underdog in this series.

Breakout Players to Watch

It’s important that Carolina establishes the run because that’s what they’re better at, but Atlanta allows a league-worst 291.1 PYPG and the Panthers have to take advantage of that. That means Benjamin and Greg Olsen need to come up big in the pass game.

The only way the Falcons keep this close, let alone win the game is if Ryan is on his game. Ryan has thrown for 4434 passing yards, 28 TD’s and 12 INT’s this season. With the Falcons WR’s all active he has to come up big at home where Atlanta is just 3-4 this year.

Panthers vs. Falcons Picks

At the end of the day this is going to be a close match-up between two teams fighting for the playoffs. I’ll always take the points when it’s over a FG in a game like this. Atlanta hasn’t been dominant at home this year and the Panthers are getting hot at the right time.

ScottThis article was written by Scott

Scott is one of the original degenerates working for MobileSportsBetting.com. Although he's most successful betting on NFL football and international soccer, he's also active in UFC and NHL hockey betting.

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