Atlanta Falcons (6-6) at Carolina Panthers (12-0)
The Falcons have lost 5 straight games and 6 of 7 since starting 5-0, to drop them down to 6-6. They still rank 12th in rate of moving the chains differential, but it has to be mentioned that the Falcons have played arguably the league’s easiest schedule thus far and have still been only able to put up overall average results. Their toughest opponents have been the likes of the Saints, Giants, Colts, Vikings, and Eagles and the Panthers are about a touchdown better than all of those teams.
The Panthers come into this game ranking 2nd in rate of moving the chains differential, against a tougher schedule that has included Seattle and Green Bay, and should be favored by at least double digits against a mediocre Falcons team that has not been playing good football of late. I had the Falcons as one of the least talented teams in the league coming into the year. They shocked a lot of people with their 5-0 start, including me, but they didn’t beat anyone of note during that stretch, won just 2 games by more than a touchdown, and have played awful since, with their only other win coming by 3 against a Tennessee team that was missing quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Making matters worse for them is the fact that the Panthers don’t have any upcoming distractions, as they head to the Giants next week, where they’re expected to be 3.5 point favorites, according to the early line. Teams are 114-89 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point road favorites and 75-51 ATS over that same time period before being 4+ point road favorites. The Falcons don’t have any upcoming distractions either, going to Jacksonville next week, but not having any distractions tends to benefit the better team more and the Panthers should be able to win by at least two scores. As long as this line is under double digits, I have no problem putting money on the Panthers.
Carolina Panthers 27 Atlanta Falcons 13
Pick against the spread: Carolina -9