When the Falcons (1-6) travel to Charlotte to take on the Panthers (3-4) on “Thursday Night Football” (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video) to kick off Week 8, they will try to start digging out of last place in the NFC South. Atlanta’s season is already lost, so it will focus playing spoiler against Carolina, which has lost two consecutive games after winning three in a row.
The Falcons’ defense continues to reel but the offense has plenty of firepower. They will look to shake off another disappointing loss that looked like it would be their second win.
The Panthers have fallen back with close losses to the Bears and the Saints. They will try to sweep the Falcons after winning in Atlanta in Week 5.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Falcons vs. Panthers in Week 8, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for “Thursday Night Football.”
Complete Week 8 picks: Straight up | Against the spread
Falcons vs. Panthers odds for ‘Thursday Night Football’
- Spread: Panthers by 2.5
- Over/under: 51
- Point spread odds: Falcons +110, Panthers -130
The Panthers are less than typical home favorites, which would be 3 points. The over/under has gone up a couple points since the initial line. This is essentially a pick ’em game, much like the first matchup, which the Panthers won, 23-16.
Falcons vs. Panthers all-time series
The Falcons hold a 32-19 edge over their closest geographical rival. The Panthers’ win in Week 5 ended a five-game winning streak by the Falcons going back to 2017. The Panthers haven’t won two in a row in the series since 2014 and ’15. The Falcons have also won 8 of 10 overall.
Three trends to know
— 61 percent of bettors are with the Panthers to cover the small spread with a victory at home. 60 percent of bettors also have them on the moneyline.
— 92 percent of bettors like to go over the moderate total with two good offenses and two shaky defenses.
Three things to watch
Will Christian McCaffrey return?
The Panthers have designated their superstar running back for return off injured reserve and there’s an increasing chance that he will be activated and suit up for his first game since hurting his ankle in Week 2. The Panthers could also give him a little more rest before a tough matchup against the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 9. If McCaffrey can’t go, the Panthers will go with Mike Davis again. Davis had 149 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the first meeting.
How much will Julio Jones help?
Jones, the Falcons’ superstar wide receiver, missed the first matchup and it showed in the struggles of his quarterback, Matt Ryan Jones has been on fire since his return, boosting fellow top wideout Calvin Ridley in the process. Ridley ripped the Panthers for 8 catches and 136 yards in the first meeting. The dynamic duo might be too hard to stop for a Panthers’ underrated pass defense.
Will the weather be a factor?
There is some rain in the forecast for Charlotte throughout the day, related to Hurricane Zeta. But it looks like there will be perfect outdoor conditions for game time. Both offenses should operate as normal. The Panthers also want to be able to make big plays with speedy wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore.
Stat that matters
No. 6 vs. No. 18. The Falcons have been awful against the pass but they rank in the top 10 against the run. The Panthers are bottom-half against the run defensively. They also struggle with backs in the passing game, which the Falcons do too. Todd Gurley had 150 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the first meeting.
Falcons vs. Panthers prediction
The Falcons should have won two in a row with Raheem Morris as their interim coach. They played much better overall against the Vikings and the Lions, tied to Jones lifting Ryan and the defense showing pride without Dan Quinn. The Panthers will score plenty, too, with Teddy Bridgewater dueling Ryan, but the Falcons settle the score for a season split.
Falcons 31, Panthers 27