Thursday Night Football: Carolina Panthers Starting QB vs. Falcons

The Panthers have had one of the most unstable quarterback situations of any team this season, and the solution at the position didn’t get any clearer last weekend. Carolina benched P.J. Walker at halftime, inserting Baker Mayfield while trailing 35-0 to the Bengals.

Mayfield played well, but was it enough to unseat Walker? The Panthers also have Sam Darnold waiting in the wings after he recovered from a preseason ankle injury. Who gets the start for Carolina in primetime?

Carolina Panthers Quarterback vs. Atlanta Falcons

Interim coach Steve Wilks announced this week that Walker will keep his starting job and be under center Thursday night against the Falcons.

While Walker was only announced as the team’s full-time starter about three weeks ago, it was surprising that Wilks didn’t stick with the hot hand after Mayfield looked solid after halftime on Sunday. Walker threw for just 9 yards in the first half, tossing two interceptions. The Bengals had more points (35) than the Panthers had yards (32) when Walker was benched.

However, Walker did play well against Atlanta in a 37-34 shootout loss two weeks ago, perfectly executing a Hail Mary touchdown to D.J. Moore that might’ve won the game for Carolina if not for a celebration penalty on Moore. With Mayfield on the bench, it feels like this might be Walker’s last chance to keep the Panthers’ starting job.

Walker has completed 58.9% of passes for 623 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions across four starts this season. He had a passer rating of 0.0 before being benched in Cincinnati. Mayfield finished 14-of-20 for 155 yards and two touchdowns in what would qualify as garbage time against the Bengals.

P.J. Walker vs. Atlanta Falcons

Walker might be getting a second chance because of how well he played against this Falcons defense. Though he started that game slowly, Walker got hot in the second half and threw a beautiful pass on what should’ve been the game-winning touchdown.

The Falcons are a favorable matchup. Atlanta’s pass defense has ranked among the worst this season, and top cornerback A.J. Terrell isn’t on track to play for the third consecutive week. Atlanta is allowing 7.2 yards per attempt and has given up 15 passing touchdowns this season. If Walker can’t take advantage of that, his time could be up.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Odds

The Falcons are slight road favorites over the Panthers, entering favored by 2.5 points. Atlanta is -150 on the moneyline.

This line is as close as it is because of that matchup between these two from less than two weeks ago. While the Panthers looked like the No. 1 pick contender we expected last week, Walker has already proven he can take advantage of Atlanta’s shaky defense. The Falcons still look like the better bet with their entire offense now healthy, but the NFC South could always bring us some more chaos.

Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

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