The Falcons and Panthers have been massively disappointing in very different ways this year. The Falcons, thanks to injuries and plain ol’ poor play, have been pretty bad since the beginning of the season, with a brief three game run to haul them up to .500 the one outlier. The Panthers, meanwhile, were one of the better teams in the NFC before they dropped into the toilet in glorious fashion in recent weeks, despite their game effort against New Orleans.
It’s not surprising that the Panthers are about four point favorites heading into this one because they’ve shown some vague signs of life, while the Falcons lose five in a row before finding their way against perhaps the worst team in the NFL. I don’t suspect most people would mind at this point if Atlanta lost and preserved their draft position, even if there’s something mighty galling about losing to even a diminished version of this once-smug Panthers squad. Atlanta has been garbage on the road, so for that reason alone, I expect them to lose.
Yet there are surprises, good and ill, around every corner for the Falcons.