Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

Kyle VassaloFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 16:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 16, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons are sitting at 7-5 and entering a must-win game against the Carolina Panthers. With the wild-card race in the NFC wide open, the Falcons have an opportunity to bounce back after a disappointing loss to the Texans last week.

The Panthers aren't just going to roll over though. They may not have playoff aspirations, but they are going to give it their all against a division foe that handed them a 14-point beating the last time they squared off.

Let's take a look to see who has the upper hand in this matchup.

Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

When: Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

Watch: FOX

Spread: Atlanta -3 

Go with the Falcons. They've lost three games on the road this year, but they've only had one win decided by a field goal margin or less. When Atlanta wins, they've got a tendency to win big. If you like the Falcons to win, and you should, this is a no-brainer. 

Over/Under: 47

Go under the point spread. The Falcons haven't scored more than 24 in their past four outings and even though the Panthers' offense has been stellar over the past few weeks, expect the Panthers to put up around 17 just as they did the last time these teams squared off.


Key Injuries (According to

Atlanta Injuries

Brent Grimes CB Knee Did Not Participate In Practice --
Kelvin Hayden CB Toe Did Not Participate In Practice --
Stephen Nicholas LB Quadricep Did Not Participate In Practice --
Will Svitek T Groin Did Not Participate In Practice --
John Abraham DE Not Injury Related Full Participation in Practice --
Ray Edwards DE Shoulder Full Participation in Practice --
Tony Gonzalez TE Not Injury Related Full Participation in Practice --
Joe Hawley C Ankle Full Participation in Practice --
Todd McClure C Not Injury Related Full Participation in Practice --
Vance Walker DT Groin Full Participation in Practice --
Roddy White WR Shoulder Full Participation in Practice --
Sam Baker T Back Limited Participation in Practice --
Harry Douglas WR Groin Limited Participation in Practice --
Julio Jones WR Hamstring Limited Participation in Practice --
Christopher Owens CB Hand Limited Participation in Practice --
Michael Turner RB Groin Limited Participation in Practice --

Carolina Injuries

Chris Gamble CB Not Injury Related Did Not Participate In Practice --
Jordan Gross T Ankle Did Not Participate In Practice --
Jason Phillips LB Calf Did Not Participate In Practice --
Kion Wilson LB Calf Did Not Participate In Practice --
Greg Olsen TE Knee Full Participation in Practice --
Kealoha Pilares WR Thigh Full Participation in Practice --
Jeremy Shockey TE Not Injury Related Full Participation in Practice --
Steve Smith WR Not Injury Related Full Participation in Practice --
Travelle Wharton G Back Full Participation in Practice --
Charles Godfrey S Shoulder Limited Participation in Practice --


Fantasy Big Plays: Cam Newton

While the Panthers should struggle, Cam Newton will not. The Falcons held him to his lowest passer rating of the season, but they allow 239.8 passing YPG on average and Newton has undoubtedly learned from his 0 touchdown, three interception day. Expect Newton to light up the Falcons this week.

Fantasy Big Plays: Michael Turner

Michael Turner ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns last time he faced Carolina. The Panthers can't stack the box, because Roddy White and Julio Jones would destroy them. Turner is a necessary evil and is sure to break for over 100 yards once more.


Keys to Falcons Win

They need to feed Michael Turner. He crushed the Panthers in their last meeting and though he's been held to less than 60 yards in his past two outings, this is the perfect game for him to rebound. The Falcons need their best player to be at his best when the postseason hits.

They must make Cam Newton uncomfortable. The Falcons forced the rookie to throw three picks in his first outing. While Newton is an incredible talent, he's not immune to rookie mistakes as the Falcons proved last time they met.


Keys to Panthers Win

They should get Cam Newton in a groove. Letting Newton throw a pick early will force him to have flash-backs to the last time he faced Atlanta. High-percentage throws that help him get comfortable are a must.

They have to stack the box. There is nothing worse than getting beat by a team's best player. Shutting down Turner like they shut down LeGarrette Blount last week forces them to throw the ball to win. They've got great talent on the outside, but if Turner runs the ball at will, they'll be in trouble.



Falcons 24, Panthers 20