- The Carolina Panthers open as 2.5-point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons in the Week 8 Thursday Night Football matchup
- Atlanta is 1-6 straight up and 2-5 against the spread so far this season
- See below for analysis on which way the line will move before kickoff
Could a trip to Carolina to face the Panthers be the elixir that the Atlanta Falcons so desperately need?
Straight up, the Falcons are a dismal 1-6 this season. Atlanta is 2-5 against the spread. However, the Falcons are 2-1 ATS on the road so far in 2020.
On top of that, Carolina has proven to be a welcoming destination for Atlanta in recent years. The Falcons have won two straight and three of their last four away to the Panthers.
The bookmakers aren’t buying into this being a safe haven for Atlanta, however. The Panthers opened as 2.5-point home favorites for the Week 8 Thursday Night Football matchup.
Bettors appear to share that opinion. The line briefly moved to Carolina -3 within minutes of opening.
Falcons vs Panthers Opening Odds
|Atlanta Falcons||+128||+2.5 (-105)||OFF|
|Carolina Panthers||-152||-2.5 (-115)||OFF|
Odds taken Oct. 25th at FanDuel.
A 23-16 win by Carolina at Atlanta in Week 5 ended a five-game winning streak by the Falcons over the Panthers.
Falcons Finding New Ways To Lose
Things are so strange for Atlanta this season that by scoring a touchdown, the Falcons paved the path to their latest defeat.
Trailing the Detroit Lions 16-14 with just over a minute to play and the ball on the Lions 10-yard line, the Atlanta game plan was to run down the clock and kick a chip shot field goal to win as time expired. The Detroit defense, though, refused to tackle Falcons running back Todd Gurley on the ensuing play.
The Lions defenders signaling “touchdown” in celebration because Todd Gurley accidentally scored while falling down is maybe a top 10 moment of the season so far.
— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) October 25, 2020
Gurley tried to fall down at the 1-yard line but his momentum carried him into the end zone. Even with a two-point conversion and a 22-16 lead, the Falcons left the Lions, who were out of timeouts, with 1:04 on the clock.
Matthew Stafford drove Detroit for a game-winning TD and a 23-22 verdict. It was the third time in six losses that Atlanta blew a fourth-quarter lead.
Panthers Come Close Again
Carolina is 3-4 but three of those losses have come against the Bears (5-1), Buccaneers (5-2) and Saints (4-2). Carolina’s point differential is just -6. Three of the four setbacks suffered by the Panthers have been one-score defeats.
That was again the case Sunday. Carolina fell 27-24 to New Orleans. Playing his former team, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished 23 of 28 for 254 yards. He threw for two touchdowns against no interceptions.
How close was Joey Slye to making that 65-yard FG.
THAT close. pic.twitter.com/lwTMiYOQLx
— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌️ (@PanthersAnalyst) October 25, 2020
Carolina kicker Joey Slye barely missed a 65-yard field goal to tie the game. Had it been successful, that would’ve been an NFL record.
Bridgewater is keeping Carolina in games because he doesn’t beat himself by taking unnecessary risks trying to force plays.
Onward Christian Soldiers
The Saints held Carolina to just 37 yards on the ground in Sunday’s win. The Panthers played for the fifth straight game without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey (high ankle sprain).
There’s a chance that McCaffrey could be back in the lineup for Thursday’s game, although the short week might make the situation touch and go.
Christian McCaffrey (ankle) unlikely to play vs. Saints, could return for “TNF” in Week 8 (per @TomPelissero + @MikeGarafolo)https://t.co/Vv3EuoVmwS pic.twitter.com/XbhbfjjVhE
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) October 20, 2020
In McCaffrey’s absence, Mike Davis leads the Panthers in rushing with 272 yards.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones played Sunday despite being limited at practice all week due to a hamstring injury.
You’ve Got To Move It
Atlanta opened as the 3.5-point home chalk against Carolina in Week 5. The Panthers kicked off as a 2.5-point underdog and won and covered.
Just like old times.
The New Orleans QB’s saved a seat for former Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o). pic.twitter.com/5GgFrA6PCC
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 25, 2020
Based on that outcome and the paths these two teams are following, look for the betting line to lengthen in favor of Carolina.