Two NFC South teams that made the playoffs last season are just playing out the regular season this time around. The Panthers have dropped six in a row while the Atlanta Falcons have lost five of six.
That sets up for a mostly meaningless game on Sunday, but is there an edge for betting purposes? Let’s take a closer look.
NFL Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Atlanta is an NFL-worst 4-10 ATS heading into Week 16. The Falcons have been at their worst on the road this season with just one win in six road games so far. They are 1-5 ATS against teams with a losing record and 1-4 ATS as the dog. However, they have won and covered four of the last five meetings between the teams.
Carolina is 6-8 straight up and against the spread this season. The Panthers are 5-2 at home this season. They are also 1-4 ATS against teams with a losing record.
Taking a look at the total, 17 of the last 22 meetings between the sides have gone under.
The fact that the Falcons are 1-5 SU and ATS on the road this season isn’t lost on the sportsbooks heading in to this game. The fact that Atlanta is a 3.5-point underdog against a team that hasn’t won since Week 9 is a testament to how terrible of a year this has been for them. The Falcons ended a losing streak of their own at five with a 40-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals last week. Their offence has been pathetic, though, as that was the first time in six contests that they scored more than 20 points in a game. That figures to be an issue against a Panthers team that has allowed 20.7 points per game over their last three.
Matt Ryan is still playing at a high level but the running game is nowhere to be found. Atlanta averages a paltry 90.7 rushing yards per game, which is the second-worst mark in the NFL. It’s hard to go on the road and win without balance but that’s what the Falcons will have to do.
The combination of the Panthers’ recent struggles and their recent history with Atlanta make them a difficult team to get behind at home this weekend. Cam Newton clearly isn’t right. While he has made the point that his throwing shoulder isn’t hurting him enough to limit his throws, the numbers indicate otherwise. Newton went just 16-of-29 for 131 yards with an interception in last week’s loss to the Saints. He is 32-of-71 for 386 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions in his last two starts. He had 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in his first eight games this year but has just two touchdowns and six picks in his last three contests.
Opposing defences are having a much easier time of things as they’re just stacking the box and forcing Newton to beat them, which isn’t working. The Panthers are scoring just 18.3 points per game over their last six.
The good news is they’re at home and they’re facing a team that doesn’t travel well. That might give the Panthers the small edge they need to come out on top.