The Atlanta Falcons head to Charlotte on a short week to take on the Carolina Panthers in hopes of breaking a tie atop the NFC South standings. With Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a toss-up game against Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, this would be a huge win for the road-favorite Falcons, but will they be able to get it?
Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for picks for the rest of Week 10 as we get closer to kickoff.
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Betting splits: 78% of bets, 66% of money on Falcons +3
Dave Tuley: The surprising Falcons are 4-5 and tied for first place in the NFC South with the Buccaneers, while the Panthers are just two games back at 2-7. But the perception of both teams is quite different as Carolina fired coach Matt Rhule earlier in the season and traded away star RB Christian McCaffrey in a move that was viewed as giving up on this season and planning for the future.
I could throw around a bunch of stats. However, the fact is these teams played just 11 days ago before Thursday night’s game with the Falcons winning 37-34 in OT. That game was even more thrilling than the final score indicates, as it looked like the Panthers were going to win on a late PJ Walker-to-D.J. Moore TD pass until Moore took off his helmet during the celebration in the end zone and the longer go-ahead PAT was missed. There’s no reason to believe this won’t be a one-score game again in Carolina. In fact, if Baker Mayfield (14-for-20, 155 yards, 2 TDs after subbing for Walker last week vs. the Bengals) was starting, I would probably be taking the Panthers plus the points or on the moneyline, but we’ll settle for some teasers with some games on Sunday, led by the Lions +8.5 at the Bears.
Other possibilities are the Seahawks +8.5 vs. the Buccaneers in Germany, Steelers +7.5 vs. the Saints or Cardinals +7.5 at the Rams, but the Lions play is my favorite.
PIck: Panthers +8.5/Lions +8.5 Teaser
Adam Burke: As the Falcons look to get the passing game going, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they looked to Damiere Byrd. Byrd only has 10 targets this season, but six of them came two weeks ago against the Panthers. He was only targeted once last week, but his 29 offensive snaps were his second most this season and his snap share of 48% was second to that game against Carolina.
With his prop set at 12.5 receiving yards, Byrd may only need one catch to get over it. He has four catches for 142 yards on the season, so he’s been the deep-ball option when the run-heavy Falcons try to keep defenses honest. With an increased target share and maybe a few more bones thrown his way, he’s a guy who could step up and have a nice game.
Pick: Damiere Byrd Over 12.5 Receiving Yards (-120)
Danny Burke: What do we know about these teams? We know that both defenses are really bad (Carolina and Atlanta rank 28th and 29th in DVOA defense). And we should look to capitalize on that.
The Panthers are getting run on 31.2 times per game, second most in the NFL, and they’re allowing 132 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt. If you weren’t aware, Atlanta got back its premier running back, Cordarrelle Patterson, last week. He didn’t necessarily go crazy on the ground, with just 44 rushing yards on 13 carries, but he found the end zone twice. Expect the Falcons to be leading in this game more often than not, and they’ll likely look to take the pressure off of Marcus Mariota by letting Patterson work his magic against a poor run defense. He’s averaging over 14 carries for 77 rushing yards, and I expect him to be around that mark Thursday night. I played Patterson over 51.5 rushing yards and would play it up to 55.5 (it’s 54.5 at DraftKings).
As for my other prop, I am looking at PJ Walker. In the first meeting between these teams, he racked up 317 passing yards on just 19 completions. That’s almost 17 yards per completion. The Falcons are allowing 310 passing yards per game and 417 total yards per game. Arthur Smith’s defense is bad enough to rank 29th in DVOA pass defense. Atlanta is also allowing opponents to complete 69% of their passes (31st) and complete 28 passes per game (32nd), while getting thrown on over 40 times per game (31st). I’m expecting the Panthers to be trailing in this game and needing to play catch up. I realize trusting a guy like Walker to go over his passing yards prop isn’t comfortable, but when it’s against as bad of a pass defense as Atlanta’s, it’s hard to look the other direction (my numbers have him around the 200-yard mark). I took a piece of this as soon as possible when the lowest prop number was 173.5, but now I’ve seen it vary from 165.5 to 175.5, so ideally you can snag it even lower. I’d play it anywhere within that range.
Picks: Cordarrelle Paterson Over 54.5 Rushing Yards (-115) and PJ Walker Over 173.5 Passing Yards (-115)