We’ve already talked about why the Falcons are not and should not be expected to blow out the Panthers, but suffice to say this is a better version of the team the Falcons handled earlier this season, albeit one still missing a couple of critical players. Throw in the fact that Atlanta’s on the road and you can see why they’ve favored by just 3.5 points at this point.
That’s eminently fair, I think. Carolina’s going to be itching to play spoiler for the Falcons, particularly after the humiliation Julio Jones visited upon them the last time these two teams met. And with a potent ground game, the ever-present threat of Cam Newton, and a very solid defense, they’re certainly equipped to give the Falcons a tough game.
Of course, Atlanta’s rolling on offense right now (and have been for a long while), and they’re not exactly lacking for motivation with the playoffs within their grasp. I expect a close, sometimes frustrating contest, but I’ll repeat that I think the Falcons win this one.
Let’s see if the line moves if/when we get confirmation that Julio’s coming back.