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NFL Betting Odds & Preview — Falcons-Panthers could be a battle for NFC South lead

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The Falcons and Panthers Could be a Ground Battle as the NFL Betting Crowd Settles in for NFL Week 8

By Charles Jay

The NFL Betting crowd is ready for week 8 of the season. They fired their coach, and hired an interim boss who had won only three games in his previous head coaching stint. They traded their best receiver. They traded a running back who was one of the top offensive weapons in the league. They have experienced multiple injuries in the quarterback department. They had to deal with a patchwork secondary last time they took the field.

Yet, believe it or not, the Carolina Panthers, who were left for dead by many BetAnySports observers – including this reporter – could actually find themselves with a piece of first place in the NFC South at the end of Sunday’s play.

If you are asking how this would be possible, it’s easy – all they have to do is defeat the Atlanta Falcons, while Tampa Bay has to lose to Baltimore on Thursday night.

And speaking of Tampa Bay, the Panthers took care of some business in that regard this past weekend, rolling to a 21-3 victory behind a punishing running game and some more imagination than the game plan had called for previously.

PJ Walker, who had played at Temple for Matt Rhule, the fired coach, made the most of his starting opportunity with 177 yards on 22 attempts and posted a 126.5 quarterback rating. And Carolina ran for 173 yards in what was an impressive display. That, along with a stop unit that slammed the door on the Bucs in third-down situations (2 for 12), proved to be a formula for victory.

So now they turn around and play Atlanta, which comes off a disappointing 35-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, in which they almost crawled out of a hole, only to be held scoreless in the second half. Oh yeah, they also got torched for 481 passing yards by Joe Burrow.

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NFL Betting Odds & Preview — Here are the numbers…..

In the odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Atlanta is laying some points.

Atlanta Falcons -6.5
Carolina Panthers  +6.5

Over 41 points -110
Under 41 points -110


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NFL Betting Odds & Preview — Panthers: Addition by subtraction?

Robby Anderson, who got in a sideline spat with an assistant coach a week ago Sunday, was shown the door, and the team likes to think it got a pretty good deal with draft choices coming back for Christian McCaffrey, who had accounted for just below 40% of the team’s total offense.

We are not sure all of this was a rallying point for the Panthers; that would be too cliche-ridden. But when you are a 13-point underdog at home, it’s going to make some guys mad. And there is no doubt that Carolina came out with more intensity.

Listen – management may tank. Players don’t. Coaches don’t, and especially this one (Steve Wilks), who is serving an audition of sorts to become more of a long-term fixture.

This defense was always hard-trying, sitting in the top 10 in a number of categories and featuring one of the bright up-and-coming stars in the NFL, Brian Burns, who registered a sack of Brady on Sunday and was ecstatic about it.


NFL Betting Odds & Preview — The Carolina QB situation

When Walker started against the Los Angeles Rams, he was restricted in terms of what the game plan allowed him to do. But against Tampa Bay, the coaching staff let him to open things up a bit, and this was apparently at the urging of some of his teammates. What this did, in effect, was allow Carolina to operate the running game easier.

At this point, Wilks says that Walker will again be the starter this week, regardless of weather Baker Mayfield and / or Sam Darnold are back from their respective ankle injuries.

NFL Betting Odds & Preview — Falcons flying low to the ground

Speaking of the running game, that’s what Atlanta lives by these days. After rushing for 186 yards against the top-notch defense of the San Francisco 49ers, they came up a bit flat in that department against Cincinnati (just 107 yards). Marcus Mariota completed only eight passes. And the result was a 35-17 defeat.

What really kills the Falcons, however, is their defense. They allow the opposition to complete 70% of their passes, and post both the lowest sack rate and the worst third down conversion percentage in the NFL. And the banged-up secondary will be without corner Casey Hayward for the long-term, due to shoulder surgery. Maybe the Panthers can do a little business with the ball.

NFL Betting Odds & Preview — The quick decision

Frankly, the Carolina defense is the best unit on the field. And that’s what will likely enable them to slip in under the number, as long as Walker has even moderate success.

Here’s another quick decision……

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Dirty

Dirty has been an employee or owner of some of the top online sports gambling forums since 1998. He worked at EOG.com from it's inception until 2008 when he left and opened GamblingIQ and then in 2012 opened Handicappers Hidaway. He has written hundreds af articles over the years and always has his "Dirty Dozen" College Football poll up starting the first week of October.
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