Panthers Falcons Odds
The Carolina Panthers (11-4) visit the Atlanta Falcons (4-11) on Sunday, December 29 in the season finale for both teams. The Panthers destroyed the Falcons 34-10 at home in their first meeting of the season as a 10-point favorite.
Kickoff inside the Georgia Dome is set for 1:00 EST Sunday afternoon in Week 17. Taking a look at the odds in Las Vegas, I find Carolina installed as a 7.5-point favorite over Atlanta with a total set of 46.5 points.
Why Carolina Covers
The Panthers have a lot to play for in Week 17. They are still alive for the top two seeds in the NFC, which would get them a first-round bye. A loss could potentially cost them the NFC South Title and a first-round bye. So, this game will be important for them. The same cannot be said for the Falcons, who are just 4-11 on the season and would be better off losing to get a higher draft pick this coming April.
Carolina has been one of the best teams in the league all season. It is outscoring opponents by 8.3 points per game on the year behind a stop unit that ranks 1st in the league in scoring defense at 14.7 points per game. They held the high-powered New Orleans Saints offense to just 13 points last week in a crucial win that will likely decide the NFC South Title.
Atlanta gave up 34 points to the San Francisco 49ers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. That means that it will be playing on short rest this week, which is certainly a disadvantage. The Falcons haven’t been able to stop anyone this year. They are giving up 28.1 points per game and 385.8 yards per game to rank 28th in the league in total defense.
Carolina thoroughly dominated Atlanta in their first meeting of the season by a final of 34-10. It won the yardage battle 373-289 for the game. Came Newton threw for 249 yards, and the Panthers added 131 yards rushing. The defense intercepted Matt Ryan three times and held the Falcons to just 78 rushing yards.
Pllays on road favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (CAROLINA) – average offensive team (4.9 to 5.4 YPP) against a terrible defense (>=5.8 YPP) after 8+ games are 29-6 (82.9%) ATS since 1983. The Panthers are 19-7-1 against the spread in their last 27 vs. a team with a losing record. Carolina is 8-2-1 against the number in its last 11 games overall. Atlanta is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 home games. The Panthers are 39-19-2 against the number in their last 60 December games.
Why Atlanta Covers
The Falcons clearly have not quit on their season. They have gone a very profitable 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall to make backers a ton of money. The betting public gave up on this team a long time ago, which has created inflated lines in almost all of their games over the past month or so. Four of their last five games were decided by four points or less.
The only one that wasn’t was Monday’s 24-34 loss at San Francisco as a 14.5-point underdog. Atlanta has a chance to win that game down 24-27 with less than two minutes left, but the 49ers returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to make the final score appear as more of a blowout than it really was. In fact, the Falcons led this game 10-3 at halftime and were in it the entire way.
You can bet that Atlanta players will be rallying around Tony Gonzalez to try and send him out with a victory in the final game of his career. They appreciate that he came out of retirement to come back for one final season. I look for them to show their appreciation by laying it all on the line for him, just as they have been over the past month.
Carolina could suffer a letdown off its biggest win of the season over the New Orleans Saints last week. It’s going to be hard to come back from such an emotional victory. Plus, the Panthers rank just 25th in the league in total offense at 318.4 yards per game, so asking them to win by a touchdown may be asking too much. Matt Ryan and company rank a respectable 12th in the league in total offense at 345.5 yards per game, so they are getting it done on this side of the ball in 2013.
Home-field advantage has been huge in this series. The home team is 9-2 straight up and 8-3 against the spread in the last 11 meetings between the Falcons and Panthers. The Panthers are 0-5-1 against the spread in their last six games after accumulating less than 150 yards passing in their previous game. The Falcons are 35-13-3 against the number in their last 51 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game. Atlanta is 4-1 against the spread in its last five home meetings with Carolina.
Home-field advantage has been huge in this series. The home team is 9-2 straight up and 8-3 against the spread in the last 11 meetings between the Falcons and Panthers.
My Early Lean: Falcons +7.5