Carolina Panthers look for revenge Thursday night against NFC South rival
We are eleven days removed from one of the more thrilling finishes between both of these teams. In week eight, the Carolina Panthers were defeated 37-34 in overtime by the Atlanta Falcons. Although the Carolina Panthers lost on the scoreboard, they did manage to cover as four-point underdogs. There were almost 900 yards of total offense in that game to go along with a 34-point fourth quarter.
The Falcons seemed to be heading towards another crushing defeat as DJ Moore caught the potential game-winning touchdown, but he forgot to leave his helmet on. This cost the Panthers some extra yards on the extra point, and we all know what happened after that.
Both teams are coming into this game off of a loss. The Bengals embarrassed the Carolina Panthers while Atlanta was in a competitive game against a depleted Chargers team. In the previous ten meetings, the Carolina Panthers have been dominated by the Falcons. Since 2017, the Carolina Panthers are 2-8 straight up with six of those losses coming by one possession.
The Falcons have a chance to move into first place in the division and become the only NFC South team with a winning record. The Carolina Panthers are not out of the division race by any means, so they should be motivated to come out and play well. Although these teams have played this year, a lot has changed in those eleven days for both teams.
The number one variable is that the Falcons have their best offensive weapon back in Cordarrelle Patterson who returned with a two-touchdown performance last week. There is no debate that when Patterson is on the field, the Falcons have a more prolific offense. According to PFF, the Falcons’ offense grades out fourth overall for the season.
After seeing what Joe Mixon was able to do to this Carolina Panther defense, it would not surprise me to see Patterson have another solid performance. Returning to the backfield will be Chubba Hubbard, who missed the week eight matchup with an ankle injury. Although the stat line of D’onte Foreman (26 carries, 118 yards, and 3 touchdowns) says Hubbard was not needed, his return will enhance the ground game.
From a matchup perspective, I do not think either team possesses a clear advantage that they could use to exploit the other. PJ Walker had over 300 yards passing in the first matchup but let’s not kid ourselves, that was more of an aberration than a trend. If Baker or Darnold (who is off of IR this week) were going to be behind center, I think the Carolina Panthers would be primed for an upset.
A few things that do work in the Carolina Panthers favor is that the Falcons rank last in pass rush grade, and will be missing their best cover corner. This should allow PJ Walker more time in the pocket to be able to find DJ Moore for another big game. The secondary of the Falcons ranks 32nd in pass yards allowed but can PJ Walker exploit it? That remains to be seen. The offensive line will be able to protect him, but he must be able to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers.
I would expect him to be on a short leash with this game holding a pretty good amount of significance. Sam Darnold is active for the first time this season, and I would not be surprised to see him if PJ Walker is not getting the job done.
The Falcons had no problem moving the ball in week eight and I do not see them having an issue tonight against a Carolina Panther defense that ranks 22nd in red zone defense, 25th in 3rd down conversions allowed, and 28th in rushing yards allowed. With Patterson back, the Falcons can have three different backs rotating in and out to gash this horrible Panthers’ defense.
If the Carolina Panthers were playing either of the two backup quarterbacks, I would be inclined to take them as a small home underdog. With PJ Walker under center, I don’t think this Carolina Panthers team can be bet at these low numbers. What I do recommend is taking the over, which right now sits at 42.5. Both defenses struggle in the red zone and on a yard-per-play basis. I expect a lot of explosiveness by both offenses and once they get in the red zone, neither defense will be able to hold up.
As I outlined earlier, with Patterson back, the Atlanta offense opens up even more on top of the recent success they’ve had against this Carolina Panthers defense. On the other side, the Falcons’ defense will not be able to contain the rush attack of the Panthers. It is also in our favor that each quarterback is prone to making mistakes, which could lead to short fields.
The AFC South is usually wrapped up by now, but due to the underperforming of the Tampa Bay Bucs, it is still wide open. Both of these teams look to inch closer to being able to dethrone (highly unlikely) the Bucs. This is not a star-studded matchup, but I think this will be an intriguing fun game to watch. Let’s kick back, relax, and root for a lot of offense tonight en route to a 28-25 Falcons win.
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