Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Prediction, Picks, Preview and Odds -- 10/31/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 1 p.m. ET, October 31, 2021
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Where to watch: FOX

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Falcons -3; O/U 46.5
BetMGM: Falcons -3; O/U 47
Caesars: Falcons -2.5; O/U 46

Season record
Panthers: 3-4 (Last place, NFC South)
Falcons: 3-3 (3rd place, NFC South)

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Panthers - Falcons preview and analysis


Last week
Panthers: lost 25-3 at Giants
Falcons: lost 30-28 vs. Dolphins

This is the beauty of the NFL season. The Carolina Panthers have gone from worldbeaters to now losing to the New York Giants.

Or maybe that’s the ugly part of it. Because why are the Carolina Panthers losing to the New York Giants, and why have the Panthers suddenly lost four in a row after a 3-0 start?

Christian McCaffrey undoubtedly makes the team better, but his absence apparently makes the Panthers the most incompetent team this side of the Mississippi.

Suddenly, the Panthers find themselves last place in the NFC South, and two straight wins have seen the Atlanta Falcons leapfrog them. The two will meet Sunday with the Falcons favored in most books by a field goal.

The Panthers’ offense has certainly hit a snag with McCaffrey out for at least the next few games, but you wouldn’t think so much to where they forgot how to run the ball. Carolina ran only 17 times for 56 yards last week with Chuba Hubbard running for 28 of them.

Quarterback Sam Darnold had his worst game as Carolina’s signal caller by going 16 of 25 for a measly 112 yards and an interception, while counterpart Daniel Jones threw for 203 yards and a touchdown.

It was so bad that Darnold was getting pulled for backup P.J. Walker, who went an abysmal 3 of 14 for 33 yards. Safe to say there was no winning under center last week.

"When you get to that point of getting pulled, I just internalize it," Darnold said. "Honestly, it's one of those situations that is what it is. He thought at the time that that would provide a spark. It's his decision and I live with it."

And while the last two weeks have not been the greatest litmus tests for the Falcons -- winning by seven in London against the New York Jets and a two-point road win at the Miami Dolphins -- the fact is they’re winning, and for what it’s worth, are one defensive stop against Washington away from a four-game winning streak.

The difference, however, has been the long-awaited emergence of No. 4 overall pick, rookie Kyle Pitts. The versatile tight end had seven receptions for a career-high 163 yards last week against the Dolphins, the fourth-most receiving yards by a rookie tight end all time. His 471 yards are the most by a tight end through six games in NFL history.

This was a week after he caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. That’s helped Matt Ryan get back on track after his 336-yard, two-touchdown performance. His 72 career games of 300-plus yards are the third most since he was drafted third overall in 2008.

"There's no blink in his game," said Ryan about Pitts. "When the game's on the line or it's an important situation, he just goes out there and executes the same way he does every other snap."

Head coach Matt Rhule already has a lot to deal with as far as his offense getting back on track. Trying to slow down a suddenly-explosive Atlanta offense is another test altogether. Given Carolina’s struggles on that side of the ball

Prediction


The Panthers’ four straight losses would be one thing if it wasn’t just an alarming stretch. Losses to the Eagles and Vikings in overtime, combined with a horrendous look at New York provides little to no faith right now in Carolina. This linebacker group trying to slow down Pitts is going to be a nightmare, and them even slowing down Calvin Ridley won’t help. Atlanta gets the double-digit win and keeps things going. Falcons by 10

Betting trends


The Panthers are 9-6 ATS as a road dog in their past 15.

Carolina is 18-7 ATS in its last 25 following an upset loss as a road favorite.

The Falcons are 20-34 ATS since 1992 as a home favorite of three points or less.

Atlanta is 11-25 ATS after passing for 275 yards or more in three straight games.

Players to watch


Panthers: As Carolina gets its offense back on track, Robby Anderson could be an X-Factor here. The receiver had eight receptions for 112 yards the last time Carolina was in Atlanta.

Falcons: Cordarrelle Patterson continues to be the most versatile player in the league. He ran for 60 yards and a touchdown last week and enters having 297 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns at home this season.

Statistical leaders


Panthers:
Passing: Sam Darnold -- 1,684 yards, 7 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Chuba Hubbard -- 309 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: DJ Moore -- 586 yards, 3 TD
Defense: Haason Reddick -- 6.5 sacks

Falcons:
Passing: Matt Ryan -- 1,668 yards, 12 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Cordarrelle Patterson -- 233 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Kyle Pitts -- 471 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Jaylinn Hawkins -- 2 INT

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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