Carolina Panthers (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (0-4)
I typically like to go against significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play and that is the case here, with the Panthers going from 3.5-point underdogs in this game in Atlanta on the early line last week to just 1-point underdogs now, likely as a result of their home win over the Cardinals last week. That’s a big shift, considering about 1 in 4 games are decided by 1-3 points. The Cardinals were an overrated team entering that game though and they were also very banged up, missing a trio of defensive starters, so the Panthers shouldn’t get too much credit for that.
The Falcons are obviously missing a key player in Julio Jones, who looks likely to miss his 2nd game of the season with a hamstring injury after not practicing all week, but they’re actually otherwise getting a lot healthier, particularly on defense, where they will get safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, edge defender Takkarist McKinley, and cornerback AJ Terrell back this week. None of those players are great, but they provide necessary upgrades for a defense that has been one of the worst few in the league thus far this season. The Falcons should be favored at least by a field goal at home, even without normal homefield advantage, as they are the better of these two teams in their current states. This isn’t a big play, but in a game the Falcons just need to win to cover, they’re worth a bet.
Atlanta Falcons 34 Carolina Panthers 30
Pick against the spread: Atlanta -1