NFL Week 4 Sunday Picks ATS: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Cam Newton-panthers-2013CAR @ ATL
Time: NOON CT
Spread: CAR -2.5
M/L: CAR -150; ATL +130
Total: 48.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Carolina Panthers have got off to a tough 1-2 start after being stifled by the Minnesota Vikings’ suffocating defense in a 22-10 loss in Week 3.

The Minnesota Vikings had eight sacks and eight tackles for loss last week, as the Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton three three interceptions and lost 84 yards on the sacks. The Panthers rushed for 105 yards, but averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and scored its lone TD on a Newton rush. Newton had 26 rushing yards for the Panthers, but the Vikings played a more efficient game and did not turn over the football.

The Panthers will be hoping for an outcome much more like that this week when it travels to the Atlanta Falcons as 2.5 point favorites according to NFL oddsmakers at 5dimes. The over/under is set at 48.5 points for the game which will air at Noon (Central) on FOX.

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Newton has been particularly ineffective in the Panthers’ two losses this season. He is just 39 of 68 passing in those two contests with a 6.71 per pass average. He has also thrown 4 picks in the two losses, and just one TD. In the Panthers’ win over San Francisco in Week 2, this was reversed, as he had four TDs and just one interception while throwing for 353 yards and 8.83 yards per attempt.

That is the Newton Carolina needs this week and the remainder of the season. He has already thrown for nearly 20k career yards, after just five seasons and three games, and the Auburn product rushed for over 700 yards his first two NFL seasons. He may return to that this year, and last year he was good for 636 yards and 10 rushing TDs. The dual-threat QB has the talent to carry the Panthers back to the postseason, but the 1-2 start is troubling, if only a little.

Newton is battling an ankle injury, but it is thought to be minor and he is expected to play.

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The Atlanta Falcons return home after playing on the Road in Week 2 and 3 wins over the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints. Last week brought the 45-32 win over New Orleans as Matt Ryan threw for 240 yards and two TDs and Tevin Coleman rushed for three touchdowns. Ryan is facing a thumb injury this week, but he is expected to play, though is unclear how much it has affected his throwing at practice this week.

Coleman was just No. 2 in yardage with 42 on 12 carries. Devonta Freeman carried the load with 152 yards on 14 carries and a long run of 48-yards.

Coleman is questionable for this game due to an ankle injury.

Ryan rushed five times for 23 yards. The Falcons had 216 rushing yards total and averaged seven yards per carry.

Freeman also led the way in receiving with five catches for 55 yards and one of the receiving TDs. He caught all five of his targeted passes, and Coleman was the other big option with 47 yards on three catches, again catching all three of his targeted passes. Freeman is dealing with an illness but is expected to play.

The backs have made a big difference with the Falcons running a lot of options and having a lot of success varying the attack. Ryan, Freeman and Coleman may be the three difference makers, but the Falcons have no issues scoring or moving the football. Atlanta ranks No. 4 in the NFL in passing yards and No. 5 in rushing yards while leading the league in points per game (34.7).

The defense has been poor, ranking third-to-last, but there is no doubt the Falcons are loaded offensively. The injuries are problematic, but it seems everyone may suit up. Even with just two of its key performers healthy, the Falcons seem to be the pick here to cover the 2.5 point spread and likely walk away victors.

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