The Carolina Panthers have come up losers the last five times they've ventured into Atlanta. Playoff-bound Carolina ends its regular season with another trip to Atlanta to take on the Falcons Sunday afternoon.
Handicappers are monitoring the point spread and being mindful of a recent Week 17 trend that has seen the Panthers play seven straight OVERs to end the season.
Point spread: The Panthers are expected to open as significant favorites, but the game remained off the board in Vegas as of Tuesday. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 27.9-15.0 Panthers
Why the Panthers can cover the spread
After a 1-3 start, Carolina is on the verge of winning the NFC South. Just as he did against the Patriots and Dolphins a few weeks ago, quarterback Cam Newton threw a late touchdown pass to beat New Orleans on Sunday, 17-13.
Carolina only ranks 24th in the league in total offense, but sixth in rushing and second in both total defense and run defense.
On the season, the Panthers have out-rushed opponents by an average of 38 yards per game. So far this NFL season, teams that have out-rushed foes have covered the spread 60 percent of the time.
Why the Falcons can cover the spread
After its injury-plagued start to this season, Atlanta has been playing much better lately. The Falcons gave the Saints a very tough game five weeks ago, rallied to beat Buffalo, lost a close game at Green Bay, beat Washington and Monday night gave the 49ers all they could handle in a 34-24 loss.
So Atlanta is 4-1 ATS over its last five games. The Falcons don't have anything to play for other than pride, and sometimes that makes a team dangerous, especially in a rivalry game.
Odds Shark's computer believes Carolina will win this game, and most signs point toward such an outcome. The Panthers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven NFC South games, beat Atlanta back in November 34-10 and catch the Falcons on the short week after their loss in San Francisco Monday night.
But the Falcons have been better in recent weeks and have a chance to keep this one close with Matty Ice and the passing game. Despite Carolina's great run, go with the divisional home dog in this spot.
- Panthers lost five in a row SU at Atlanta
- Panthers are 1-4 ATS past five as road favorites
- Falcons are 1-6 SU past seven games as home underdogs
- Panthers are 6-1 ATS past seven games within division
- Carolina played seven straight Week 17 OVERs
- Carolina 8-3 ATS past 11 Week 17 games
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