Atlanta at Carolina Lines, Betting Pick & TV Info

Posted by Kenny Bell on Wednesday,December 21, 2016 8:36, EDT in

The Atlanta Falcons enter Week 16’s game at Charlotte with a one-game lead atop the NFC South, a division the Carolina Panthers have won the past few years. It’s a very short week for Carolina on Saturday as it had to play Monday night, but the Panthers still have long-shot playoff chances. Here’s a look at the NFL lines for the game.

Atlanta at Carolina Lines, Betting Pick & TV Info

When: Saturday, Dec. 24, 1 PM ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
TV: Fox
RadioAtlanta / Carolina
Stream OptionNFL Live
Opening NFL Lines: Falcons -2.5 (52)

Why Bet on Atlanta?

The Falcons (9-5) beat San Francisco 41-13 last week without superstar receiver Julio Jones for a second straight game due to a toe injury. Devonta Freeman rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Falcons to clinch their first winning season since 2012. Freeman’s performance came just a week after he had a season-low 6 yards on six carries against the Los Angeles Rams. Freeman’s 100-yard effort against the 49ers was his second of the season, the other being a 152-yard outing against the Saints in Week 3. Freeman has three games with three rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons. No one else has more than one such game over that span.

Matt Ryan completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards, including a pair of 9-yard scoring tosses to Taylor Gabriel and Austin Hooper. Aldrick Robinson, stepping up with Jones missing his second straight game with a toe injury, had a career-best 111 yards on four receptions. Jones (toe) was officially “limited” in Tuesday’s practice. Jones is fully on track to return against the Panthers after sitting out the past two weeks. Jones had 300 yards in Atlanta’s first meeting with Carolina.

The Falcons signed safety Dashon Goldson this week. He spent the first six weeks of this season with the Falcons after failing to draw any interest in free agency. He worked out for the team on Monday. Goldson will provide depth after Atlanta placed Kemal Ishmael on injured reserve last week.

Atlanta would win the division with victory this week and Tampa Bay loss to New Orleans. Right now, the Falcons would be the No. 3 seed in the NFC, behind Dallas and Seattle. The Falcons would rather have it decided Saturday than have matters drag out into the season finale against the rival Saints — the final game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are 3-1 in division play, with the only loss coming to the Buccaneers in the season opener (31-24). They defeated the last-place 5-8 Panthers at home (48-33) and handled the 6-8 New Orleans Saints on the road (45-32).

Why Bet on Carolina?

The Panthers (6-8) dominated the Redskins on their field Monday, 26-15. Reigning league MVP Cam Newton showed no ill effects from a shoulder injury suffered in Week 15, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers took advantage of blunders by the Redskins, who lost their sixth consecutive Monday night home game. It was Washington’s most lopsided loss since being routed 38-16 by Pittsburgh in the season opener, also on a Monday night.

Newton improved to 21-6 in regular-season games played in December or January. Panthers K Graham Gano made four field goals but missed from 38 to end his streak at 13 in a row. Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart had 25 carries for a season-high 132 yards.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said “we’ll see” Tuesday when asked about shutting down star linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion). Kuechly, who was held out of Monday night’s game despite clearing the concussion protocol, plans to address the media on Wednesday. He could announce a decision to sit out the final two games then. It would be a surprise if Kuechly plays again this season.

Carolina, the defending NFC champion, still has a playoff chance but it would take a miracle. The Cats must win this week and then next against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers clearly need to lose their Week 17 game against Carolina but the Panthers also need the Bucs to lose in Week 16 at New Orleans. The Packers also must lose their next two games. Carolina also needs the Saints to win one game, in Week 16 at home against the Bucs, and lose the next game, in Week 17 at the Falcons.

Finally, the Panthers need the Redskins to win one of their final two games and tie the other. Yes, tie. It would be Washington’s second tie of the season, which would make it the only team since overtime was added to finish with two ties in a season.

Atlanta at Carolina Betting Pick: Carolina Panthers

Home team is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 meetings.
Under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.

Take the underdog Panthers at home on NFL odds and the under.