Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#455 Atlanta Falcons 54 vs.
#456 Carolina Panthers -4
Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 1:00pm EST
Bank Of America Stadium, Charlotte
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#455 Atlanta
#456 Carolina
2-7
5-4
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5-4
3-6
6-3
21
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28
25

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When and where: November 17, 2019, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., 1:00 PM ET

The prideful Atlanta Falcons continue their efforts to make good on an ugly season in Sunday’s NFC South divisional tilt with the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matt Ryan returned in Week 10 and stunned the New Orleans Saints in an impressive win on the road. The victory put an end to a six-game losing streak and marked the team’s first win since Week 2. They’ll take on a Panthers team that has lost two of their last three games to a pair of likely playoff contenders in the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

Falcons show a sign of life

Just when the Falcons’ 2019 season was seemingly being laid to rest, they sprung back to life before the first few clumps of dirt hit the coffin. Their shocking win on the road over the New Orleans Saints was the kind of occurrence that gives meaning to the oft-used “every given Sunday” phrase.

Where has this Falcons team been all season?

No one ever questioned the talent. It has always been the execution for a team that hasn’t looked the same since Kyle Shanahan hightailed to San Francisco to be a head coach. We’ll see if there’s any road magic left in Sunday’s trip to Charlotte to face the Panthers.

The ability to consistently put pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees will once again be the formula for success when facing Carolina’s Kyle Allen. I’m not ready to sip on the Allen being better than Cam Newton Kool-Aid. He’s a young quarterback that could quickly become unsettled if the Dan Quinn from the Legion of Boom days emerges. The Falcons head coach has to turn the heat up to 100 degrees against Allen.

It would also help if they could figure out a way to slow down running back Christian McCaffrey as well, but I also understand Quinn isn’t a miracle worker. On offense, we need to see the confident and efficient version of Ryan that has been on a milk carton for most of the season. The loss of tight end Austin Hooper stings to the core, but he still has one of the best tandems at receiver in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Of course, it would also help if backup running back Brian Hill decides he wants to join the party as well.

Some of the questionable names to watch on the injury report are safety Kemal Ishmael, tight end Luke Stocker and punter Ryan Allen. Running back Devonta Freeman is listed as doubtful for the game.

Allen era is officially underway

The building quarterback controversy involving Ryan Allen and Cam Newton didn’t hit the crescendo most anticipated. Newton was placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his 2019 season, and the Panthers have turned into a hot-topic for 2020 trade talks involving their franchise quarterback. This is good news for Allen, who can now focus on the task at hand without Newton’s towering shadow looming over his shoulders.

A week after getting out-dueled by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Allen turns his attention to another former League MVP in Ryan. The Falcons are playing like wounded animals right now, and the 23-year-old quarterback needs to be prepared to see plenty of blitz packages. With seven losses already on their record, the Falcons will be competing like there’s nothing to lose.

You can expect plenty of screen packages featuring McCaffrey in open space. Good things seem to happen whenever the ball is in his hands. It would also help settle down an aggressive Falcons’ defensive front.

The Panthers’ defense won’t miss having to cover Hooper across the middle of the field. They can shift their focus back to stymying the run game, limiting the big-play potential of Jones and forcing Ryan to go the length of the field. Banking on Ryan making a mistake wouldn’t have been a consideration three years ago, but things have obviously changed with an Atlanta offense that has suddenly become turnover-prone.

Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and corner Donte Jackson were both held out of practice on Wednesday with injuries. It could be significant in terms of their availability if that continues to be the case before the weekend.

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I’m not expecting the Falcons to suddenly win out the rest of the way, but I do believe they can make a little run. There is a sense of renewed purpose emanating from a truly talented team that hasn’t lived up to lofty expectations. The loss of Hooper does offer some reservations, particularly when going on the road and facing a good passing defense.

But the Panthers have struggled in stopping the run.

They rank in the bottom-half of the league in rushing defense with the unit allowing an average of 136.7 yards per game. Running back Brian Hill rushed for only 61 yards against a ferocious Saints defensive front, but the Falcons’ willingness to commit to him for 20 rushing attempts shows trust and determination to remain balanced on offense.

This will be Hill’s best game of the season as he helps the Falcons chip away at the Panthers’ defense before hitting Jones with the home run throws over the top. Falcons’ fans should enjoy this run while it lasts. It may not be for long.

I’m taking Atlanta and the points in another NFC South stunner.

Prediction: Atlanta Falcons (+5.5)

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The Falcons seem to be rolling on offense with Ryan back behind center. His short time away from the game caused reflection for a team that is far too talented to be sitting at 2-7. The Panthers' defense has been generous in regards to points given up, and the Falcons are always a threat to run up the scoreboard with Ryan and Jones on the field together.

They’ll have to if they hope to combat the one-man circus act of McCaffrey on the other side of the ball. There is so much talk about quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson being the standout MVP candidates. McCaffrey will continue to prove why he deserves the same respect. I’m taking the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (49.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.