We’ve seen the Falcons struggle over the past month, but the urge to pick them over a divisional foe is strong, and when that foe is in disarray the urge only grows.
You won’t be surprised to learn we’re a more optimistic bunch this week. Once you’ve checked out our final score predictions, tell us how you’re feeling about the matchup ahead, if you would.
Falcons 16 - Panthers 13
The Falcons and Panthers are both somehow still in the thick of the playoff race, so this game actually carries some weight, despite both teams being 5-7. Carolina, though, is reeling. The QB they traded several picks for has been as bad as he was with the Jets and they brought back Cam Newton hoping he’d make things better. The Panthers have subsequently fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady if that’s a clue for how things are going. Still, the Panthers defense is legit and they are the reason this game will be close. Atlanta has gotten the running game going in recent weeks and I think this trend continues in Carolina. This will be another low-scoring affair, but I think the Falcons do just enough to keep their playoff hopes alive. - David Walker
Falcons 20 - Panthers 17
This is not going to magically turn into a high-flying offensive adventure. Neither team possesses an offense that has shown any ability to consistently move the ball, especially through the air, and thus this one will likely come down to who can run the ball more effectively and get that one extra stop. This time out, given the disarray in Carolina and Atlanta’s sudden ability to run the ball somewhat effectively, I like Atlanta. -Dave Choate
Falcons 24 - Panthers 20
This is going to be a close one. Not sure of what the final score will exactly be, but I know it will be close. Both teams are not good, both teams are 5-7 and both teams are in new regimes trying to discover their identities. In Week 8, the Falcons defense did enough to win only allowing one touchdown and four field goals. But the Falcons offense failed to show up, which has been the script often this season. I feel like now that the Falcons have Russell Gage somewhat going, they’ll be able to move the ball more and hopefully put up some points in the red zone. It wouldn’t shock me if Carolina ultimately wins this game, but I’m going to roll with the Falcons in a must-win if they intend to make the playoffs. – Evan Birchfield
Falcons 23 - Panthers 13
I am struggling to come up with an ounce of strong feelings for this Panthers game. The Falcons are essentially out of the playoff race. The Panthers are in the middle of a number of bumbling, confusing decisions, culminating in Cam Newton running some unknown offense under a new offensive coordinator. That is not a recipe for success. The Panthers are bad. I think the Falcons are less bad. Debating the match-ups here would be like picking between a gas station hot dog or a gas station burrito: there are no winners here. I’m calling for a decent win over Carolina that won’t change anyone’s opinion of either team. - Matt Chambers