NFL Week 4 Predictions: Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Jeff GrantContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

NFL Week 4 Predictions: Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

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    Quarterback Cam Newton will need to take care of the football this week, as the Carolina Panthers (1-2) face off against the Atlanta Falcons (3-0) inside the Georgia Dome, with Sunday's opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on FOX.

    Sports bettors will find that the Panthers are currently 7.5-point road underdogs in the Week 4 NFL betting odds (courtesy of SBR Forum), while the total has fallen two points from its opening number to settle in at 48.

    Let's take a closer look at this NFC South matchup from a betting perspective, while also providing an against-the-spread football pick in the process. 

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan

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    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is off to a fantastic start this year, as he leads the league with a 114.0 passer rating heading into Week 4.

    The former Boston College Eagles star has done some of his best work during his career against the Carolina Panthers, throwing for 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions in eight games in the series.

    The Falcons have started fast the first three weeks of the season, while they also lead the NFL in most points scored on their opening possession since the 2008 campaign.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton

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    This is definitely the biggest game of Cam Newton's NFL career to this point, as the second-year quarterback has been dealing with a lot of off-the-field scrutiny due to the team's 1-2 start, including a pictorial in The Charlotte Observer this week.

    The 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has thrown two touchdowns and five interceptions through three weeks of the season, but those numbers could get worse after this contest.

    He has a 56.9 passer rating against the Atlanta Falcons, which happens to be his worst number against any opponent he's faced two or more times.

Series History

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    The Atlanta Falcons have won and covered the last four meetings in this series, outscoring the Carolina Panthers by a significant 124-60 margin in that span.

    It's important to note that Sunday's visitor won the statistical battle in both games last year, including a 296-252 edge on the ground.

    The Falcons have won the last four games of this NFC South rivalry inside the Georgia Dome.

Las Vegas Perspective

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    I reached out to Jimmy Vaccaro earlier this week about this high-profile affair, as he serves as the Public Relations Director for William Hill US, and here's what he had to say:

    I think Matty slips on the ice a little bit here. There's a little bit of redemption on the line here for Cam Newton, who is coming off of an absolutely horrible showing. I'm not quite sure on a prediction here, but I'm expecting a game that is close entering the final minutes.

    William Hill opened the Panthers as 8.5-point road underdogs, but that number has fallen a full point over the last couple days.

Prediction

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    I'm going to recommend that readers back the Carolina Panthers as one of their Week 4 NFL picks this weekend, as the Atlanta Falcons will have a hard time maintaining their NFL-best plus-10 turnover differential through three weeks.

    The Panthers have also managed to cover eight of their last nine games after allowing 35 or more points, as they've had few extra days to prepare for this contest since suffering a 36-7 loss to the New York Giants as 2.5-point home favorites on Sept. 20.

     

    NFL Week 4 Pick: Carolina Panthers +7.5 

     

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