(2-13, 4-11 ATS)
(12-3, 10-5 ATS)
The top team in the NFC tries to lock down the No. 1 overall seed in the conference on Sunday afternoon in NFL betting action against the worst team in the league, as the Atlanta Falcons try to dismiss the Carolina Panthers.
The good news for the Panthers is that they already have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft already locked up. More good news is that this is the final game for Head Coach John Fox before he gets replaced. This was a season in which Carolina really just tanked the whole year, though we know that injuries really didn’t help matters out any. RB DeAngelo Williams has been on IR for most of the season, as has QB Matt Moore. QB Jimmy Clausen has really looked like a fish out of water for the majority of this season, as he only thrown for 1,376 yards and two TDs against eight picks. He also has the league’s lowest quarterback rating at 56.8. If there’s a bright spot (and they’re hard to find), it is that the defense has played sufficiently at times, holding teams to 334.8 yards and 25.1 points per game. Still, when your offense is only mustering 256.3 yards and 12.4 points per game, it really doesn’t matter what the defense gets done unless it is playing spotless ball.
The Falcons have all of the pressure in the world on their backs in this one, as they know that they are probably going to have to go on the road in the playoffs should they choke this one away. If so, QB Matt Ryan and company are inevitably in a ton of trouble, as they are going to be in a world of hurt and will have totally collapsed down the stretch. Ryan isn’t beat often at home though, as last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football was just his second defeat at home in his entire career. The MVP candidate has thrown for 3,469 yards and 26 TDs against nine picks. There are a number of stars on this team, though. RB Michael Turner has rumbled for 1,304 yards and 11 scores, while the offense’s other hero and Pro Bowler was WR Roddy White, who has 109 catches for 1,327 yards and nine TDs. TE Tony Gonzalez is also going to the Pro Bowl after catching 64 passes for 603 yards and five trips to the end zone. Defensively, DE John Abraham has 13 sacks on the year, and he is heading to Big D for the Pro Bowl as well.
Though it seems like Atlanta can just name its final score in this game, this isn’t going to be the case. Sure, the Falcons will get their job done and get into the playoffs, but winning by more than two TDs is going to be a tougher task now that the Panthers know that this is the last game for their head coach. Don’t be shocked if Fox goes out with a bang that really could scare Carolina.
Week 17 Free Pick: Carolina Panthers +14.5