NFL Week 4 Predictions: Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 9/30/12, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  Atlanta -7
Current Betting Line:  Atlanta -7
Opening Total:  50
Current Total:  48.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Falcons Panthers NFL Game Preview
Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner has enjoyed success against the Carolina Panthers in his career

Carolina has alternated wins and losses over the first three weeks of the season, coming off a humiliating 36-7 loss to the New York Giants as 2.5-point home favorites.  “I feel like we took a step back last week,” commented Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.  “We got knocked down but we have to get back up.”  The Panthers will need to do a better job stopping the run, ranking 27th in the league in that category, as Falcons running back Michael Turner has averaged 104 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in the last seven meetings in this series.  Carolina is 12-4 ATS after allowing 35 or more points in a game, which is something to consider when making your pro football predictions this week.

The Panthers have lost their last four visits to the Georgia Dome, including a 31-17 loss as 3.5-point road underdogs last year.  Quarterback Cam Newton is off to a slow start and may have trouble turning the corner against Sunday’s opponent, considering two of his four worst passer ratings came in this series last year.  He has committed six turnovers this season, which is a discouraging statistic when taking on a defense that’s caused a league-high 11 turnovers.

Atlanta will be seeking its first 4-0 start since the 2004 campaign, as it returns home from a successful trip to the West Coast in earning a 27-3 win over the San Diego Chargers as three-point road underdogs.  Quarterback Matt Ryan enters Week 4 with a superb 114.0 passer rating and is tied for the league-lead with eight touchdown passes.  “We’ve got a lot of guys playing with confidence right now,” stated Falcons head coach Mike Smith.  It’s still important to note that the team has started with the league’s best field position on average this year.  Atlanta is 9-4 ATS as a home favorite, while cover all three of its opportunities inside the Georgia Dome when the total is 45.5 to 49.

The Falcons are 19th in the league in total offense, 25th in the league in net rushing yards per game and 15th in net passing yards per game, which places them in the bottom half of all three big offensive categories.  Atlanta has truly been doing it with a team effort, which has given Smith a 46-21 record on the sidelines in his four-plus seasons.

Sports bettors will likely back the Panthers due to their 5-2 ATS mark after an against-the-spread loss, while the Falcons are 0-4 ATS after allowing 15 or fewer points.

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