Panthers vs. Falcons Spread Prediction

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons, 12/23/18 Week 16 Predictions

The Panthers shut down Cam Newton for the final two weeks of the season, including for Sunday’s game against the visiting Falcons. With Newton out, is Atlanta a decent play as a road dog or will Taylor Heinicke lead Carolina to the upset?

Game Snapshot

105 Atlanta Falcons at 106 Carolina Panthers

1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, December 23

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Public Betting Trends

According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetNow.eu, the Falcons are 3-point favorites to beat the Panthers. The total, meanwhile, sits at 44.5 points. As of this writing, 59% of the public betting tickets are on the Falcons to cover the point spread.

Atlanta Falcons

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the "belief" is that Julio Jones (questionable, hip/ribs) will play Week 16 against the Panthers. The Falcons will "double-check" on Jones' status prior to Sunday's game, though it appears he'll gut it out through hip and rib injuries. Jones had one of his quieter weeks when these teams met back in Week 2 (five catches for 64 scoreless yards), though obviously the NFL receiving yards leader is a must-start whenever he's active.

Carolina Panthers

Greg Olsen reportedly "wants to keep playing" next season. It's not a given Olsen returns in '19 since the next stage of his career obviously entails broadcasting. Unless a bullish contract sweeps him off his feet (which is certainly a possibility), it sounds as if he'll return with a healthy Cam Newton in 2019. Unlike last offseason, Olsen finally underwent foot surgery recently and should make a full recovery for camp. His next season would likely be the last of his illustrious career.

NFL Betting Trends

Atlanta

The Falcons are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games overall and 1-6 against the number in their last seven road games.

Carolina

The Panthers are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games overall and just 1-4 ATS in their last five games coming off a loss.

Prediction

I don’t trust the Falcons, even against an undrafted, journeyman quarterback. Heinicke can run a little bit and based on his preseason film, he’s willing to take shots. The Panthers might be out of it but this is Heinicke’s opportunity to shine and Atlanta is coming off its best game of the season so the Falcons are primed to let down bettors again. I’m backing the home dog in a game that means nothing to anyone but Heinicke.

NFL Week 16 Prediction: Carolina Panthers +3

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