Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Sunday, January 2, 2011, 1:00 pm EST, TV: FOX
Opening Line: Falcons -14.5
Current Line: Falcons -14.5
Opening Total: 41
Current Total: 41
Money Line: Falcons -1200 / Panthers +800
The Atlanta Falcons (12-3) blew an opportunity to clinch homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs in their 17-14 home loss to New Orleans on Monday Night Football, but they will get a second chance on Sunday when they host the cellar-dwelling Carolina Panthers (2-13). The Falcons (-14.5) could still lose the NFC West division to the Saints with a loss to the lowly Panthers and a victory by the defending Super Bowl champions at home against Tampa Bay.
Atlanta will try to forget the team’s most recent performance at the Georgia Dome, which snapped a 15-game winning streak there and dropped quarterback Matt Ryan’s career home record to 19-2. Ryan did not perform well in defeat against New Orleans, completing just 15 of 29 passes for 148 yards with one touchdown. His top target Roddy White was held to season lows of three catches for 43 yards while running back Michael Turner rushed for 48 yards and fumbled in a key spot near the goal line.
Turner has thrived in the past against Carolina, averaging over 111 yards and scoring eight touchdowns in the last four meetings. He ran for a season-high three touchdowns and 112 yards in a 31-10 victory at Carolina in the first meeting this year back in Week 14.
The Panthers have already clinched the dubious honor of the top overall pick in next year’s NFL draft and will try to send out head coach John Fox with a strong performance. Fox is in the final year of his contract and likely will not ink a new deal with the team following another disappointing season. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is also just 1-8 as a starter and could be replaced if a better player such as Stanford’s Andrew Luck is available.
Carolina is 0-7 straight-up and 2-5 against the spread on the road this year following a 27-3 loss at Pittsburgh last Thursday night. The team will have extra rest on its side for the first time since enjoying a bye week a little more than two months ago. The Panthers responded with their first win of the season after the bye, topping San Francisco 23-20 when kicker John Kasay converted a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 39 seconds remaining.
The Falcons have won three of the last four meetings with Carolina both SU and ATS, and the OVER is 3-0-1 in those games. The OVER is also 3-1 in the last four road games for the Panthers.
If you are betting this football game between the Falcons & Panthers, make sure to check out the winning NFL picks packages we offer. You can also get free winners on our free NFL picks page.