Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off with a re-match of arguably the most thrilling game of the season so far as the 2-7 Carolina Panthers host the 4-5 Atlanta Falcons. The match just two weeks ago finished with an Overtime win for the Falcons as Panthers kicker Eddy Piniero (who somehow still has a job) missed an extra point and a field goal to allow the Falcons to matriculate down the field and kick the game-winning field goal and give the Falcons a 37-34 win.
That win took the Falcons to the top of an AWFUL NFC South where they are still level with the Buccs despite both having negative point differentials. The Panthers are probably quite happy to sit bottom of the division with just the two wins as they look to the future and a chance to draft a franchise QB.
Last week saw the Falcons lose a close one to the Chargers in another wild finish as they created a turnover with Ekeler fumbling before the man recovering the ball inexplicably dropped the ball giving it back to the Chargers who used their fresh downs to move a few yards downfield to kick the winning field goal. – The Panthers were DISMANTLED by Joe Mixon and the Bengals who led 35-0 at the half before PJ Walker was booked, with the game finally finished 42-21 to the Bengals with Baker Mayfield coming on at half-time to chuck a few TDs in second half garbage time.
Falcons -3 @ Panthers: 42.5
NFLWeather.com has this as a fairly clear night, but reports are out there of on-and-off rain and 20-30 MPH wind… this game would have had a lot of running anyway, but if there’s that amount of wind there’s a good chance there will be even more on the deck than before.
The Falcons covered their first 6 games of the season before going on this recent streak after losing AJ Terrell to a hamstring injury, they now sit at 6-3 against the spread after their recent losses, apparently last week they closed +2.5 to the Chargers after being 3 all week. Tough break. They are 5-4 to the OVERS on their totals this year, so no real trend there.
It’s been a weird year for the Falcons, and fair play to Arthur Smith and the coaching staff, it’s not a talent-rich roster yet they’ve been eking out results, for the most part, thanks to an effective run game and very good red zone play as they sit top 10 in Redzone TD percentage with 62% for the season.
Marcus Mariota has done an average job so far, he’s moved the ball well enough for them, and his mobility is a good asset in helping get their running game going but his deep passing has been very hit or miss, largely miss, as the few elite players they have struggled to find their way into deep shots. He’s only thrown 10 TDs through 9 games, but his QBR ranks him 9th. His mobility is a huge thing and he averages around 33 yards per game on the ground this year including 43 from 6 attempts in the first game between these two.
The passing game is tough to judge, Kyle Pitts is a fantastic talent, he gets open, he gets downfield and he constantly gets overthrown by his QB, last week a prime example as he escaped the defenders only to have no chance of catching the pass which may well have won the game for them, in fact, PFF reckons he had 202 air yards last week and finished with just 27 yards. That’s quite something.
Pitts is the clear talent on this offense but rookie Drake London has shown a few sparks this year but his numbers have plateaued as the season has gone on, and unsurprisingly he’s hard to trust in the passing game. Olamide Zaccheus was averaging 30 yards or so per game but his numbers have dropped in recent weeks as well, and the likes of Damiere Byrd only get a target or two per game, although he is a player who has shown he can fly and make some deep catches.
The running game has been the highlight of this team though as even without Cordarelle Patterson (who returned last week) they were able to move the ball well with Caleb Huntley and rookie Tyler Allgeier who has looked good when given the chance this year. Patterson returned last week though and had the highest number of carries although the work was spread around quite fairly with the two incumbents. Patterson was rewarded with the 2 scores on the ground though, one of them utterly destroying Drue Tranquil before strolling into the endzone. I would imagine that it will be a similar split here, Patterson the lead but by no means the only runner getting the ball.
Defensively they are still struggling at cornerback and can be taken advantage of in that spot, as the Panthers showed a couple of weeks ago. If the weather is fine, I’d expect a few deep shots from PJ Walker and hopefully, for the sake of fun, a few completions.
It’s been a crazy year for the Panthers who come into this one with their third-choice QB as the starter, an interim head coach and barely any coaches as Steve Wilkes fired another two after their loss to the Bengals at the weekend, probably not the most sensible thing to do with a short week on deck, but maybe it is practical if you’re looking to lose games. The Panthers are 3-6 against the spread and 4-5 on totals for the year.
They have said that PJ Walker will once again be the starter despite his meltdown last week where he finished the first half with 3 completions from 10 attempts… 9 yards and 2 interceptions. Quite something. He did show the week before that he had an arm on him as he threw 65+ yards in the air on the hail mary which tied up the game for the Panthers, but he’s a 3rd-choice QB for a reason and things evened out very quickly for him. It remains to be seen who the backup is for the Panthers, but there’s contract stuff around Baker which could mean he’s down to 3rd once Sam Darnold is healthy.
The run game for the Panthers hasn’t looked THAT bad since they traded away the best running back in the league with Christian McCaffrey going to the 49ers. D’onta Foreman racked up 3 TDs against the Panthers when they faced each other and even before that he and Chuba Hubbard moved the ball well. I believe Chuba is out again, so there may be some more carries for rookie Raheem Blackshear who found the endzone in garbage time for them last week on one of his 5 carries.
DJ Moore caught a bomb from Walker in the comeback in Week 8, but only managed to haul in 2 of his 6 targets last week, he’s clearly got the talent but is hamstrung by this terrible offense. Terrace Marshall has probably had the biggest bump with PJ Walker coming in as he’s managed to link together a few decent games 31, 87, 53 yards in his last 3 games and he’s got a reasonable line for this match as well. Shi Smith, Tommy Tremble, and holy shit, Laviska Shenault was even allowed a few snaps at the weekend, they round off a pretty poor pass-catching group.
The defense is meant to be a highlight of the Panthers team with Brian Burns leading the way up front but they struggled to get pressure on Joe Burrow and if you can’t get pressure on the Bengals then you may struggle against everyone else, they sacked Mariota twice and intercepted him twice in Week 8.
Who’s doing what then?
I’ll get to the point here, I think the Falcons win, and cover, and due to it being quite a low total after they put up 70 points last time they played, I like the over as well. The Falcons defense is still poor and can be beaten and the Panthers just allowed 35 in a half to a running back.
Prop-wise. It would be foolish not to take Cordarelle Patterson scoring another TD after his couple on Sunday, and he’s available at plus money to do that – I do like his over 7.5 rec. yards as well. I do like Terrace Marshall o35.5 receiving yards.
They’ll be my two picks for the night, but I’ll have a nibble on this – “Atlanta Falcons to win, Cordarrelle Patterson to have 50+ rushing yards & score 1+ TD” at 5/1 at Paddypower as well.
It’s so tempting to take Kyle Pitts over on his yards, longest reception and other things as he really should have more yards each week but it never seems to click, hopefully for my dynasty shares, it will in primetime and we’ll get to see a good Pitts game.
Enjoy the game folks, I’ll be back on Sunday with previews for those games.
Featured Image: AP