This Sunday the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) will host the Carolina Panthers (1-0) in a huge NFC South matchup in Week 2. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will be televised locally on FOX.
Oddsmakers opendeed this game up with the Falcons as 5.5-point favorite and that’s since been bet up to Atlanta -6. The total for this contest is sitting at 44.5 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 2 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.
Falcons vs Panthers Vegas Betting Preview
The Panthers got the new season started off on the right foot, as they defeated the Cowboys 18-6, covering as a slim 3-point home favorite. Both offenses really struggled to put points on the board, as that game was 10-0 in favor of Carolina when the 4th quarter starters. The only touchdown prior to that was a 35-yard drive by the Panthers that was set up by a big punt return.
Atlanta got the 2018 season started last Thursday in Philadelphia against the defending champs. The Falcons had a 12-10 lead with less than 3 minutes to play before the Eagles scored what was the game-winning touchdown. Atlanta had their chance at the end, as they had 1st and goal from the 10 with 23 seconds on the clock.
These two teams split their two meetings in 2017 with the home team winning and covering in each matchup. Carolina won 20-17 as a 3-point home dog and the Falcons won 22-10 as a 5-point home favorite.
Free Pick & Predictions: Falcons -6
I would have to lean towards laying the points with Atlanta and taking my chances with the Falcons winning this game by at least at touchdown. I think Atlanta is flying under the radar going into Week 2, while I think people are overreacting to the Panthers Week 1 win.
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Even after scoring just 12 points against the Eagles, I have high expectations for this Falcons’ offense going forward. That Eagles defense is one of the best in the league and while the Panthers are typically strong defensively, they don’t pose the same caliber a pass rush or talent in the secondary.
It’s also worth noting that Carolina is still without one of their top linebackers in Thomas Davis, who was suspended for the first 4 games and star middle linebacker Luke Keuchly figures to be playing this at less than 100% after hyper-extending his knee late in the win over Dallas.
I’m also not buying the great defensive showing by Carolina in Week 1. The Cowboys offense was a complete mess. For whatever reason Dallas wanted to drop Prescott back and throw to that lackluster receiving corps instead of feeding their best player in Ezekiel Elliott, who had just 15 carries.
It’s going to be night and day for the Panthers defense when they line up against the Falcons and all the weapons they have on the field. Not to mention Atlanta’s offense is built for playing inside a dome, where the Panthers defense is best suited on a grass or turf playing surface.
Not only has the home team covered 5 of the last 6 meetings, but Matt Ryan is 4-1 in his last 5 home starts against the Panthers and has averaged 333 passing yards in those games. As for Cam Newton, he’s posted some of his worst numbers in Atlanta. He’s completed just 53% of his attempts and averaged a mere 150 passing ypg in his last 5 on the road vs the Falcons.
I am aware of the Falcons losing two of their best defensive players in Deion Jones and Keenu Neal, but I still like Dan Quinn’s defense in this one. Carolina has been hit hard with injuries on the offensive side of the ball, most notably the offensive line. Left tackle Matt Kalil is on IR, right tackle Daryl Williams is doubtful and guard Trea Turner is in the concussion protocol. Keep in mind they let All-Pro Andrew Norwell leave in free agency and did little to replace him. They also lost Newton’s favorite target in Greg Olson to a serious foot injury.
Add in the fact that the Falcons are going to be the more hungry team, as they are the ones trying to avoid the 0-2 start, and that Atlanta has had 3 more days to prepare and I think this one could get ugly in favor of the home. Give me the Falcons -6.