It’s pretty unlikely the Falcons and Panthers will deliver us as entertaining of a game as the one they played two weeks ago, but given how many close games Atlanta has played, there’s a chance for some more chaos in primetime. The Panthers are closer to the No. 1 pick than playoff contention, while the Falcons are in a virtual tie atop the NFC South despite sitting at 4-5.
Let’s make predictions, dive into the depth charts, and take a look at the odds ahead of Thursday night’s NFC South showdown.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Prediction
The Panthers’ brief surge under Steve Wilks looks like a mirage. Carolina fell back to earth against the Bengals, heading to halftime down 35-0 with a grand total of 32 yards. Baker Mayfield helped straighten out the box score a bit, but Wilks surprisingly stuck with the quarterback who threw for only 9 yards in the game.
The Falcons continue to play above their talent level and have one of the game’s most experienced defensive coordinators in Dean Pees. I’d trust Pees to figure out what went wrong against P.J. Walker the first time and make sure that doesn’t happen again. The biggest concern for Atlanta is A.J. Terrell’s expected absence. It clearly hurt against Carolina, though the Falcons held up decently against Justin Herbert this past Sunday.
Even so, these Falcons have enough in the tank offensively if the Panthers do score a few points. Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London are all healthy, making Atlanta’s offense as balanced as it’s been all season. I’ll take the Falcons -3.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
The Falcons are 3-point favorites on the road, entering at -150 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 43.5 points.
Even considering how evenly matched the last meeting between these two was, it’s mildly surprising the Falcons are only favored by a field goal. P.J. Walker looked abysmal against the Bengals but is set to start again for Carolina on Thursday. As much as Walker has struggled at times, there’s always a chance he takes advantage of a shaky Atlanta defense (again) and helps the Panthers put up a serious fight at home.
- The Falcons are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games against a team with a losing record.
- The Panthers are 3-9 ATS against their last 12 NFC opponents.
- The under is 6-0 in the Falcons’ last 6 Thursday night games. This trend goes back many years, but it’s worth keeping in mind the offensive struggles we tend to see across the league on Thursday nights.
Atlanta Falcons Injuries: CB A.J. Terrell faces a tough road to playing after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. He didn’t practice Monday. OT Elijah Wilkinson is questionable with a knee injury.
Carolina Panthers Injuries: CB Donte Jackson is on track to play after playing through an ankle injury in Week 9. RB Chuba Hubbard is questionable after missing two games with an ankle injury. WR Laviska Shenault’s status is uncertain after he missed practice Monday with an illness.
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Falcons vs. Panthers below.
P.J. Walker vs. Falcons Secondary
Walker started slow against the Falcons two weeks ago but turned it on late in the game, beating a porous secondary. Atlanta allows 7.2 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 31st in the NFL. Without Terrell in the fold, it should be a tough night for the unit on paper. Walker, on the other hand, looked completely overmatched against the Bengals on Sunday.
The Falcons’ secondary could be just what he needs to get back on track, but Walker is inexperienced enough that Dean Pees’ adjustments could give him a tougher time.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Panthers Run Defense
The Falcons put up plenty of points against Carolina last time out, but one key piece they didn’t have was Cordarrelle Patterson. The Panthers have a middle of the pack run defense, and that was the result the last time these teams played. Tyler Allgeier was largely bottled up while Caleb Huntley had a very efficient day on the ground.
With Patterson back on the field, the Falcons might be able to take some of the pressure off Marcus Mariota and wear down Carolina’s defense with the running game.