The Atlanta Falcons have been through a season of frustration. And you have to wonder how long Dan Quinn is going to last. They are still looking for their first win of the year as they meet up with the Carolina Panthers in a game that is set for 1 PM ET on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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After their loss at Lambeau Field against the Packers, perhaps the best thing we can say about them is that at least they didn’t have a monumental collapse. And who knows what kind of carry-over effect that’s had. This is something we talked about last week, as we noted they have more or less blown all the momentum they seem to have developed since the 6-2 finish to last season.
The Panthers may have seemed a little overmatched at the season’s outset, as Matt Rhule was undertaking an NFL assignment after stints at Temple and Baylor, and had taken on a 30-year-old offensive coordinator in Joe Brady.
But they rolled up 444 yards last week in a 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals, so they have something the Falcons don’t – a win. In fact, they have two of them, and in a format where there is an extra playoff team in each conference, you can’t call them non-contenders just yet.
In the NFL betting odds at BetAnySports, the Falcons are the slight favorite at home:
Atlanta Falcons -1.5
Carolina Panthers +1.5
Over 53.5 points -110
Under 53.5 points -110
The Falcons have to get it done through the air – they really don’t have a lot of variety, as they have run the ball just 37% of the time. Julio Jones may or may not be any good to them – he has been limited with a hamstring injury. And we see flashes from Todd Gurley from time to time; he isn’t as spectacular as he used to be, and is no workhorse, but he plugs away. And he’s really there to provide some balance.
It was kind of a bold move hiring Brady, although in a lot of ways it made sense. He was the “hot assistant,” having steered Joe Burrow to a Heisman Trophy and LSU to a national title. The team signed QB Teddy Bridgewater as a free agent, and the results haven’t been bad at all, considering that they have been operating without Christian McCaffrey.
Brady and Bridgewater have a relationship going back to when Brady was a quarterback coach with the New Orleans Saints. And Bridgewater has completed 73% of his passes, as he has forged a connection with Robby Anderson, who made some impact with the Jets and is currently among the NFL leaders in receiving yards with 377.
Mike Davis isn’t exactly doing a McCaffrey imitation, but he did have 111 yards from scrimmage last week. They will move the chains; only the Packers have punted the ball less frequently, in relation to total drives. What the Panthers have to work on is converting more in the red zone; they have scored touchdowns on only 50% of their trips inside the 20-yard line.
Both of these squads have some work to do on the defensive side, as they are surrendering 72% completions. But with regard to overall “uptick,” we kind of like the direction Carolina is headed, while Atlanta looks like a team that is getting more frustrated as they look for answers. So we’ll take the points.
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