Betting On the Line: Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

Matchup Summary:  

The Atlanta Falcons host the Carolina Panthers @1 pm in what will be an important divisional matchup.  This games significance varies for the contestants, however. For the (11-4) Panthers, this game has monumental playoff implications.  A win would clinch the NFC South and ensure a #2 playoff seed, a buy week, and a home playoff game for Carolina.  A loss would most likely send the Panthers on the road throughout the playoffs.   For the (4-11) Falcons, the actual stakes are low, but what’s On the Line goes much deeper than the win-loss statistics reveal.  This I-85 rivalry has always been heated, and the comments coming from the Falcon locker room suggest that Atlanta wants to keep it that way.

Currently, oddsmakers seem to be a bit divided on this game, with the line waivering from Carolina -5.5 to -7.  The over/under is sits consistently at 45.5 points.  Keep reading because @Cat_Chronicles and Falcons’ analyst, Allen Strk’s bets are ALL IN!

All Bets Are In:

Tony’s Bet: Atlanta Taking +6.5 Points  (Taking the Under) 

Every week there seems to be a lot On the Line for the Carolina Panthers. Maybe the old coach’s adage “this week’s game is the most important game of the season” isn’t so cliche after all.  It hasn’t been for the Panthers this season anyway.

Right now the line is on the move, which means the money is on the move.  Some oddsmakers opened the spread with the Panthers favored by -7.   This is a big spread for any divisional matchup.  One that I would certainly hesitate that the Panthers could cover, given their anemic offensive performance at home against the Saints.  It looks as if I’m not the only one who thought this was giving the Falcons too many points, because the line has moved to -5.5-6.5.  This might now seem like a lot, but that is the difference between 1 and 2 scores.  I pick the Falcons to cover if the line is any higher than -6.  I’m picking the Panthers to win, but it will not be a blowout.

Look for the Falcons to make every effort to play the spoiler.  Let’s hope the Panthers aren’t looking to the playoffs just yet, but are instead focused on clinching the NFC South, a playoff bye, and a home playoff game.

I’m taking the -6.5 points.  Panthers eek this one out 20-17, well short of the 45.5 o/u.

Joe’s Bet: Falcons Take the Points (-6.5)

The Panthers-Falcons game is likely the strongest rivalry in the NFC South. These teams do not like each other. So as fans of any sport know, when it comes to rivalries, throw everything out of the window.

This rivalry is intense. Going back several years to the Mike Vick era in Atlanta and you can see where the intensity comes from. Mike Vick destroyed the Panthers on more than one occasion. I know I had a strong dislike for Vick even before the whole dog fighting incident. Then the events of last year. In the first matchup Matt Ryan throws a deep pass late in the game over the head of the Panthers secondary to win the game. This was after Ron Rivera decides to punt on a 4th and less than a yard at midfield. Then the comments by Matt Ryan immediately after the game telling the Panthers to please leave the field expeditiously. These things all contribute to the fire that burns in my heart against the Falcons as a Panthers fan. This season has been very different though.

The Falcons were expected to contend this season for the division crown. Well some key injuries decimated the Falcons roster. So now they sit 4-11. The mirror image of the Panthers record. Atlanta would relish the playing the role of spoiler against this Carolina team. As bad as their record is, the Falcons are a talented team. They have extra motivation for beating Carolina in the form of Tony Gonzalez last game. They would like nothing more than to send him out a winner. These things will keep Atlanta motivated and should keep the game close.

I am not a betting man (work too hard for my scratch), but if I was I would pick Atlanta to cover. As good as Carolina is running the ball, and as poor Atlanta is at stopping the run it would seem Carolina will run away with this but for the above mentioned reasons this one stays close.

The Panthers have a lot On the Line in this one. It is imperative they win this game so we have the bye week to get healthy the few players we have dinged up, and we will also get a home playoff game. This year Carolina is 7-1 at home and the sole loss came in week 1 against the favorites to win the Super Bowl. So Carolina has plenty of motivation for winning this game.

I am of the opinion there will be some points put up in this one. The Falcons are really proficient as an offense at home and it will take Carolina scoring up near 30 to win this one. My score prediction is 28-20.

Allen’s Bet: Falcons Taking Points (-6.5) and Under

Steve Smith plays a huge difference maker in my decision here. If he were healthy, I wouldn’t hesitate in picking Carolina to score 30 points and cover the spread. With Smith now ruled out on Sunday, it will be tough for Carolina to create those explosive plays. As bad as Atlanta’s defense may be, Carolina’s depth at wide receiver is pitiful. Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn aren’t receivers you can fully depend on, which is why Cam Newton struggled so much last Sunday against New Orleans. Sure he overthrew a few easy passes, but Newton didn’t have anyone to truly rely on with Greg Olsen being keyed on.

This will be Tony Gonzalez’s last game of his legendary career. He had his way with Luke Kuchley last time and I’m expecting that again, if they put that responsibility solely on him. Kuchley is an excellent linebacker that deserves all the accolades he receives, but he’s not someone you should leave alone in coverage. You can make the argument that Thomas Davis has outplayed him at times this season. Roddy White and Steven Jackson have been coming on strong these past few weeks, which makes their offense much different than the one that Carolina faced in November.

You can expect a 2012 style NFC South battle, where this game won’t end till the late fourth quarter. I’m still picking Carolina because Atlanta can’t stop the run and DeAngelo Williams has played well in recent weeks. They can also lean on Mike Tolbert as well. That should be just enough to win 23-20 and to earn a first round bye.

Atlanta is taking the points and it’ll be slightly under 45.5

Special thanks Allen Strk, Atlanta beat writer for You can follow him @Allen_Strk