Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-3)
The Panthers made a bizarre move at the trade deadline on Tuesday, trading #1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills for a 3rd and 7th round pick. With Benjamin going into the final year of his contract in 2018, it’s the kind of move that would make some sense for a team that is out of playoff contention, but the Panthers are right in the mix for a playoff spot in the NFC at 5-3, making the move a real headscratcher. They’ve already had major issues offensively this season with center Ryan Kalil and tight end Greg Olsen out with injury. Taking Benjamin out of the mix just hurts this offense even more. Their primary weapons in the passing game are now Devin Funchess, Christian McCaffrey, and Ed Dickson and they haven’t been able to run the ball consistently all season.
That trade prompted this line to shift from about -1 in favor of Carolina to -2.5 in favor of Atlanta. That seems like a significant line movement, but it’s within the field goals, so it’s the kind of line movement that likely won’t have an actual effect on the outcome against the spread, as about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. With that in mind, I’m taking the Falcons here, as I have this line calculated right between 2.5 and 3 in favor of the visiting Falcons. This is just a no confidence pick though, as we’re not getting much line value with Atlanta.
Atlanta Falcons 23 Carolina Panthers 20
Pick against the spread: Atlanta -2.5