The Falcons winning seems a bit crazy. But hear me out. Carolina has yet to have a game where they just lay a giant egg this year. They also are missing Jonathan Stewart who accounts for 28% of their touches this season. The Falcons should be able to push the pocket better with Paul Soliai back this week, and Cameron Artis-Payne has been having issues as a back in their system. If the Falcons can stay committed to being balanced on offense, they should be able to surprise with some points this time. And who knows? Maybe they have some confidence that magically comes up and allows them to beat the Panthers in a much closer game than last time.
Panthers 26, Falcons 17
We saw the Falcons play their best game of the last several months last week, and I think this trend continues this week against Carolina. The Panthers are the easy favorite here, as they should be, but losing Stewart will be a sizeable hit to the offense. I see Atlanta putting up some resistance, but Carolina is a much more talented team. At this point, all we can hope for is a late Christmas miracle.
Panthers 27, Falcons 13
Without Jonathan Stewart, this game should be slightly more competitive. Dan Quinn won't be forced into putting eight in the box with the powerhouse running back being sidelined. Then again, Kemal Ishmael is far better suited as in-the-box safety than trying to cover twenty yards downfield. It's difficult to see Atlanta scoring in this game, if Julio Jones isn't beating double teams or being utilized in the slot. Kyle Shanahan needs to utilize Jones in a similar fashion as Ben McAdoo used Odell Beckham last week. Winning matchups on the outside is the best option towards scoring on this vaunted Carolina defense. Completing passes across the middle is nearly impossible with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis constantly making plays. It's also highly unlikely that Devonta Freeman will have much success on the ground either. Carolina is on a mission, while Atlanta is evaluating players for next year. Expect Cam Newton to make his jaw-dropping plays and their defense continuing to cause havoc on a weekly basis.
Panthers 35, Falcons 21
The real revelation here is that I'm predicting the Falcons offense manages to score three touchdowns against the stingy Panthers defense. What can I say - I'm feeling a bit crazy. Even though this game is in Atlanta, I just don't think the Falcons match-up well with the Panthers. I fully expect the Panthers to wreak havoc on our team yet again, but for the home team to put up more of a fight. The Falcons will end up out of the playoffs, but I'm hoping they can fight for some of their pride in this game. Yes - that is what this season has now boiled down to.
Falcons 0, Panthers 38
Not this again!
Panthers 42, Falcons 14
Interestingly enough, I think this is a game the Falcons could win. I thought Carolina's best chance at a loss would be this game, but that thought was 6 weeks ago. It's clear which of the two teams is superior, although I did have a dream the Falcons won this game 69-7, so there is that. I'm not expecting a win, but I do expect more fight out of the Falcons. It's a shame we put that fake punt on tape last week, because we're gonna need all the tricks to win this one.
Panthers 31, Falcons 20
The Falcons will make legitimate progress compared to two weeks ago, and this may even be a football game. I just don't expect them to win.