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Panthers at Falcons
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By Tom Wilkinson

NFL Preview – Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons are favored at home on Sunday afternoon, as they host the Carolina Panthers in a game that can be seen on FOX. The Panthers are coming off a low scoring win in Week 1 against Dallas, while the Falcons lost at Philadelphia. The Panthers are already banged up on offense, while the Falcons are banged up on defense. Let’s look at this Week 2 matchup and NFL picks.

Date and Time: Sunday, September 16, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
NFL Odds at BetDSI: Falcons -6, O/U 44.5
Panthers vs. Falcons TV Coverage: FOX

The Panthers didn’t do much on offense last week, but their defense was impressive, as they held the Cowboys to just eight points. The Carolina offense suffered two major losses, as tight end Greg Olsen and right tackle Daryl Williams suffered injuries. Cam Newton carried the offense last week against Dallas and he may have to do so again this week in Atlanta.

The Falcons lost their opener against the Eagles, as once again the offense under coordinator Steve Sarkisian failed to deliver. The Falcons defense played well, but they lost a major piece, as safety Keanu Neal suffered a season-ending injury. The Falcons are now without two Pro Bowlers, in Neal and middle linebacker Deion Jones. Carolina has lost three of the last four games against the Falcons in the last two years and they are not getting much respect for this game, as they are listed as 6-point underdogs.

Matchup to Watch

This game comes down to how well Cam Newton and the Carolina offense does against the Atlanta defense. The Carolina offensive line is a mess right now. Dallas sacked Newton three times last week and they pressured him on 43% of his drop backs. The Panthers did little last week in the passing game, as Newton threw for just 161 yards. The Falcons will be without both Neal and Jones so they could have a difficult time containing Cam.

Keep in mind that Carolina has a new offensive coordinator this season in Norv Turner and he let Cam run in the opener. Cam had 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown. “I am expecting that.” Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn said to the media, “When he gets out on the edge, he’s a running back and a big one. So, I anticipate that part of his game because that adds another element to their offense.” Newton has averaged 51.5 yards on the ground against the Falcons and last season he had 86 yards and a TD in a 20-17 win.

“He can run, and he’s hard to tackle,” said cornerback Desmond Trufant to the media, “He’s big. ... We’ve just got to be disciplined, run to him and swarm the ball and wrap him up. Just keep everything in front of us.”

Key Stats

The Panthers are 5-15-2 ATS in their last 22 meetings in Atlanta. The Panthers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games. The Panthers are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 vs. the NFC South. The Falcons are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games. The Falcons are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in September.

Looking at the total, the Under is 4-1 in the Panthers last 5 games in September. The Under is 4-0 in the Falcons last 4 vs. the NFC South. The Under is 6-1 in the Falcons last 7 home games. The Under is 8-1-1 in the last 10 meetings.

Panthers vs. Falcons Picks

On paper, the Falcons should win this game, as they have more talent than the Panthers, but how can you trust the Atlanta offense? If Cam can make some big plays on the ground he should keep the Panthers in this contest. I will take the points with Carolina in this game. I also can’t ignore the trends on the total, as 8 of the last 10 meetings have gone under, so I will also play the game under the total.

Panthers vs. Falcons Pick: Panthers +6 and Under 44.5 at BetDSI
Panthers vs. Falcons Score Prediction: Panthers 20, Falcons 17

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