Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
Two teams look to get their seasons jump started meet in the Georgia Dome as the Atlanta Falcons host the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons are -4.5 favorites over the Panthers with an over/under point total set at 51.
The Atlanta Falcons have grown accustomed to winning over the past few seasons and thus far they have a losing record as they head into week six. In their defense Atlanta has played a tough schedule but they haven’t pulled off the big win and the schedule doesn’t get much easier paying in the NFC South. Matt Ryan’s numbers are down as he’s been sacked 14 times throwing for 1302 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Michael Turner has 360 yards and four touchdowns as the Falcons are slowly giving Jacquizz Rodgers playing time to give Turner a break from his 84 carries. Roddy White is one of the best receivers in the game with 32 catches, Tony Gonzalez has 27 catches and four touchdowns, and Julio Jones has grabbed 25 balls but is questionable this week. John Abraham missed last week’s game and it hurt the entire Falcon defense which has nine sacks, four fumble recoveries, and six interceptions. Sean Weatherspoon leads Atlanta in tackles with 49 followed by Curtis Lofton with 47 and Thomas DeCoud with 27. The Flacons defense is ninth worst in the NFL in average yards allowed per game at 383.4 including getting roasted for 294.2 through the air, a number that must improve and a left over issue from last season that wasn’t addressed.
The Carolina Panthers are vastly improved over the team that drafted first a year ago and while they won’t be going from worst to first and are still not quite a playoff team there is reason to be excited. QB Cam Newton has been the story for the Panthers this season surprising most as he not only looks like seasoned pro but he is putting up big numbers week after week. While Newton has completed just 58.2 percent of his passes he has thrown for 1610 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions but his ability to escape has meant just nine sacks and 160 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. DeAngelo Williams is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and Jonathan Stewart is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has 18 catches. Steve Smith looks revitalized with 27 catches and three touchdowns and new addition Greg Olsen has 20 catches and three touchdowns. While the Panthers games have been relatively close, they have been more the product of late scores by the offense and the defense tightening in the second half. The Carolina defense allows 366.2 yards per game and have eight sacks three fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. James Anderson leads the Panthers with 35 tackles followed by Dan Connor with 26 and Sherrod Martin with 24.
Atlanta is 17-5 against the spread following a straight up loss, 1-4 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against the NFC. Carolina is 4-0 against the spread in their last four games, 5-2 against the spread against a team with a losing record, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games. The favorite has covered five of the last six in this series.
The Falcons record has gotten them to the point where we finally get value on them and playing at home against a team that isn’t too sharp against the run may be just what the doctor ordered. Newton should have numbers against the Atlanta defense but it probably won’t be enough.
Atlanta Falcons -4.5 Carolina Panthers