Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, 10/15/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV: FOX
Opening Point Spread: Atlanta -6
Current Betting Line: Atlanta -3
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 50.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
Carolina has been close in losing two consecutive games, but bettors have profited in the team’s four-game run against the spread. The Panthers have actually out-gained four of their five opponents despite carrying a 1-4 record. It will be hard-pressed to come out of the Georgia Dome with a victory due to dropping both year’s contests by scores of 31-10. Offensively, the team has gotten the running game going over the last couple weeks, averaging more than 160 yards a game due to the opposition keying in on a potent passing attack. Carolina is 6-9 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points, while the ‘over’ is 10-5 in those contests.
The Panthers passing attack has really opened up with rookie quarterback Cam Newton off to a fantastic start, but he’s interested in picking up victories more than statistics. “We’re real close, but close doesn’t get you nowhere,” commented Newton this week in practice. “And that’s probably the most disheartening thing, knowing how close we are to getting that win and putting us back on the map.” Wide receiver Steve Smith has become a weapon again, ranking second in the league with 609 receiving yards, surpassing last year’s total (554).
Atlanta is 2-3 on the season and was unable to hold off the Green Bay Packers after jumping out to a 14-0 lead last week, falling 25-14 as six-point home underdogs. The Falcons were out-gained by 175 yards in the contest, which is the second time they’ve been statistically beaten by triple-digits inside the Georgia Dome. They have dominated this series, posting a 20-12 record, including wins in the last three games played inside this venue. Atlanta is 8-5 ATS versus division opponents the last two-plus years and 4-1 ATS as a home favorite of 3.5 to 7 points.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan should be in for a big game, completing 69.8 percent of his passes and putting together a 109.4 passer rating in three home games against the Panthers. Through five weeks of the 2011 season, the Falcons are fourth in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage, scoring 10 touchdowns in 15 trips inside the 20. Atlanta will want to get running back Michael Turner going, as Carolina is allowing 135.2 yards per game on the ground.
Bettors will likely back the Falcons due to the home team being 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, while the Panthers are 3-10-2 ATS when dressing up as a visitor in this divisional clash.
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