Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:00 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Carolina +2½ over Atlanta
8:20 PM EST. No, you are not suffering from déjà vu, as these two NFC South sides squared off in Atlanta just 11 days ago. You may remember that game, as it was a wild one that ended with a 37-34 Falcons win in overtime. The 4th quarter was nuts.
There’s a lot to digest there. Three lead changes, a two points conversion, a big play, two made field goals, and a missed extra point. That’s a pretty full scorecard to end up right where you started in a stalemate. The Falcons would kick the winning field goal in overtime, but the road to get there was long and winding. We bring this up because we cannot stress enough that it is “in-game variance,” and not the X’s and O’s that decide the outcome of these games. Who could possibly predict the final 15 minutes of that game or any other? They can’t and that is why we preach to play the value.
31-of-32 (sorry Lions) teams were given a spot to showcase their talents in prime time, and this is the Panthers’ opportunity to shine in front of the football world. When you get one crack to host a Thursday night game like this, it’s a big deal. The fans get excited, and so do the players. For Carolina, motivation is not an issue here.
The Panthers had seen an uptick in their stock after knocking off the Buccaneers at home as a 13-point pooch in Week 7, as they went from taking back double digits to being just +4½ at Atlanta and then +7 at Cincinnati last week. Carolina was frog-stomped in Cincy, dropping a 42-21 decision to the Bengals. In light of the loss to the Bengals, Carolina fired cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni. The score was 35-0 at halftime, so quarterback Baker Mayfield mopped up in garbage time, but it is PJ Walker who will get the start once again tonight. Does it really matter who who starts for the Panthers? What small bloom there may have been is now off Carolina’s rose.
The Falcons have been market darlings this season, covering six of their nine games. We’ve backed the Dirty Birds multiple times this season, but we cannot recommend backing them tonight as a small road favorite in a division game on a short week. We faded the Falcons last Sunday in their home game against the Chargers, but we pushed, with the 20-17 final aligning with our Chargers -3 wager. If we were going to make a play in this game tonight, it would be prudent to fade the Dirty Birds again but we're going to sit this one.
Recommendation: Carolina +2½ (No bets).
Carolina +2½ +102 (Risking 0 units - To Win: 0.00)