The Atlanta Falcons are very likely to fire their head coach at the end of the season, but the Carolina Panthers decided not to wait. In the midst of a four-game losing streak and a bit of a nosedive, the Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera. For a second straight season, the team started well, but they’ve completely tanked in the second half of the season.
With Rivera gone, Perry Fewell takes over, and that might change the dynamic for Sunday’s game with the Falcons. However, it’s unclear exactly what’s wrong with the Panthers as the issues appear to run deep, so a coaching change may not provide the immediate spark some believe it should.
- Opening Line: Falcons PICK
- Current Line: Falcons -3
- Over/Under: 47.5
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
- Start Time: 1:00 PM ET
- Last Meeting: Falcons 29 vs. Panthers 3
The Panthers had suffered some close, explainable losses during their current losing streak. Losing tight games to the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints – two of the top teams in the NFC – is understandable. Losing at home to Washington is not. It was that loss that eventually sealed Rivera’s fate.
The question is where does the team go from here? Is that firing enough of a catalyst for change? The issues on the field remain as quarterback Kyle Allen has regressed in a major way. After tossing seven touchdowns and no picks in his first four games, he has eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his last six games. His 38.3 QBR is ugly as it ranks 30th in the NFL. Teams know the key here is to stuff running back Christian McCaffrey and force Allen to beat them, which he hasn’t been able to do.
That’s exactly what the Falcons did a few weeks ago when these teams met, and Atlanta blew them out 29-3. McCaffrey was held to just 70 yards rushing while Allen hoisted the ball a whopping 50 times. The question is can the Falcons’ run defense hold up as well this time around? They’ve given up 114.0 rushing yards per game in their two contests since.
Atlanta’s defense has mostly been bad this season outside of a two-week stretch that included wins over Carolina and New Orleans. They’ve allowed 61 points in two games since and have looked listless. The good news is they might get some bodies back on offense as Julio Jones, Austin Hooper, and Chris Lindstrom are expected to return.
- The Panthers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine as a dog of 0.5 to 3 points
- The Panthers are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five on the road against teams with a losing home record
- Atlanta is 6-13 ATS in their last 19 as a dog
- Under has cashed four straight times for the Falcons following a loss
I mentioned in our weekly “What We Learned” column that something was wrong with the Panthers, and that cost Rivera his job. However, I don’t know that the move solves a lot for them. Allen is still under center, and whatever issues they had before are still there. This team basically quit last week at home against Washington.
The Falcons are a bad team, too, but they should get some bodies back with Jones, Hooper, and Lindstrom returning. Also, the Falcons are at home. I’m a bit nervous laying the points here, but they’re the lesser of the two evils right now.
Check out our other NFL Sports Betting Guides for Week 14
- Washington at Green Bay Packers (-13)
- Detriot Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-12.5)
- San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
- Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (-9)
- Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7)
- Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (+6)
- Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
- Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-5)
- Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)
- Tennessee Titans at Oakland Raiders (+3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5)
- Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-3)
- Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-1)
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-9)