Free Sports Picks: Home CFB CBB MLB MMA Boxing Super Bowl
LootMeister NFL Picks
Online SportsbooksBest Sportsbook Bonuses

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons Point Spread - Pick

Carolina Panthers (11-4 SU, 9-6 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (9-6 SU, 6-9 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: CAR +3.5/ATL -3.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5

The Carolina Panthers take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a key NFC South matchup from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. For both teams, the playoff tie-ins are enormous, making it a high-stakes battle with a lot on the line. For the Panthers, they could end up with a first-round bye, be on the road for a wild card game, or anywhere in-between. The Falcons, meanwhile, are trying to win their way into a wild-card spot. On Sunday, Carolina beat the Buccaneers to win their 11th game, while the Falcons fell the Saints on the road, making this a must-win situation.

These teams met in week nine in Charlotte, with the Panthers posting a close 20-17 win over the Falcons. The Falcons had Matt Ryan going over 300 yards, but they couldn't convert the production into many points and they hope to this week. The Falcons control their own destiny, as a win would get them into the postseason. If they lose, they can still get in if Seattle loses to Arizona. For the Panthers, the picture is less-clear. If they win and the Saints lose to the Bucs, they will win the division. If the Vikings also lose, they could end up with the 2-seed. While their playoff picture is less-dire than the Falcons, there is enough on the line to guarantee they'll play hard.

The Falcons had done well to climb back into the playoff race, entering the game against the Saints, following 5 wins in their last 6 games. Still, the loss to the Saints on the road was costly. The Saints led 20-3 in the fourth quarter, with Atlanta making it look better with a few late scores, Either way you cut it, it wasn't what they were looking for in a late-season must-win spot where they could have really taken control of their playoff future.


The Atlanta offense didn't fire on Sunday—a recurring issue for the Falcons this season. The run-game was not able to get untracked. The line couldn't contain the Saints pass-rush. Combine that with a few untimely turnovers and a slew of penalties and it was an uphill battle the entire game. Still, for all their failings on Sunday, they get another shot to make it right this week. Matt Ryan is still prolific and Julio Jones had a big game against the Panthers in their first matchup this season. They need Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to make plays on the ground and catch passes, with Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, and others getting involved. And against a tough Carolina "D," the Atlanta O-line will need to come up with better results this time around.

The Atlanta defense has actually been pretty good this year. They have upgraded their play from last season. Like Sunday, a lot of their performances have been wasted with the offense not doing its share. In the middle up front, Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe have done well to stop the run. Adrian Clayborn and Takkarist McKinley have been adept at rushing the passer. Deion Jones has been a massive playmaker in the middle, along with DeVondre Campbell. At corner, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have been solid, with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen at safety. All told, they've been pretty effective in allowing a touch over 20 points a game on average.

Carolina should start commanding more respect with 7 wins in their last 8 games. The win over Tampa was a struggle, with a late Cam Newton TD run giving the Panthers the lead with 35 seconds left. Both sides of the ball have been playing well. Cam Newton has been extremely valuable and looks a bit like he did a few seasons ago when he led Carolina to the Super Bowl. And a playmaking defense has given the offense more than enough room to do their thing. With so many other contenders in the conference, the Panthers have been overlooked a bit, but their recent form suggests a contender.

Newton has 3122 yards passing with 21 touchdowns. He has also been really turning it loose with his legs of late, running for 695 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Jonathan Stewart nearing 700 yards and Christian McCaffrey having shown more aptitude in rushing, their run-game is in good shape. Devin Funchess has risen to the role of top receiver, with McCaffrey adding a lot of juice in the short-pass option. Tight end Greg Olsen is a factor moving forward. This offense has a lot of options.

The Carolina defense offers a lot of firepower and playmaking ability. Their defensive line can control games. Guys like Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Mario Addison, and Julius Peppers are very strong against the opposing run, while combining for over 30 sacks. Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, and Shaq Thompson make up a really strong middle. The secondary has been mostly average, but the defense has been a big part of the Panthers getting back into contention this season.

The stakes are high. With Atlanta facing a win-and-get-in scenario and at home, a case can surely be made for them on a lot of different levels. But high-urgency doesn't always equate to on-the-field excellence. And the Panthers have their own set of motivations that won't just go away because Atlanta wants this really bad. I see this as being a toss-up kind of game with the points maybe coming in handy. I'm taking the Falcons.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Atlanta Falcons plus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Panthers vs. Falcons game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

Share this article with friends:

Leave a comment:

Quit wasting your hard earned money! Make the switch from -110 to -105 odds today
You'll be so glad that you did! Click Here!
Doc's Sports NFL Picks

NFL Betting

  • Reduced Juice - Loot explains how reduced odds football betting works and where you can find this valuable asset.
  • What is a Point Spread? - Many new to the game struggle to understand why one side has a (+) while the other has a (-) in front of a team. We explain what the spread is and how it works.
  • Football Bets - All the different types of wagers that you can make when betting on football games.
  • What Professional Handicappers Do - Learn the tricks of the trade and increase your odds of beating the books!
  • Key Numbers - The article that bookies don't want you to read!
  • NFL Betting Quiz - Test your football wagering prowess with Loot's 10 question quiz!
  • Super Bowl 52 Predictions - Loot gives his preseason picks for which teams are most likely to win "the big game" along with middle of the road and a longshot that is sure to surprise you!
  • 2017 NFL Season Wins Predictions - Loot breaks down every team and gives his opinion on how they'll do vs. the number!
  • 2017 NFL Bye Weeks - The first set start in Week 5 and the final byes take place in Week 11. Loot also gives tips on betting on teams coming off byes.
  • 2017 NFL Coaching Changes - We seem to be in an era where football coaches become disposable in an instant if they don't win. 2016 was no different as a handful of teams made the switch. Check out who went where right here!


  • Famous Football Players - Biographies of the best and greatest NFL football players of all-time.
  • Greatest NFL Players of All Time - A list of all time greats at each position. Each position has it's own dedicated article!
  • Best Quarterbacks of All Time - Joe Montana heads our list of top 10 QB's, however, Tom Brady is a sure bet to give him a run for his money by the time his career is said and done.
  • Best Running Backs of All Time - We list the top 10 greatest ball carriers of all-time. The order may be debatable, as Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton all brought something special to the gridiron.
  • Football Lingo - One must be very familiar with all of the terms, slang and jargon associated with this game to win at football betting. Find a slew of pigskin terminology right here!
  • Football Quotes - Funny and memorable sayings from around the National Football League including comments made by Vince Lombardi and John Madden.

Other Great Sites

  • Predictem - Weekly NFL picks from one of the most knowledgeable sports handicappers on the web. Tons of great football betting advice articles here too!
Reduced Juice Sports Betting 100% Sportsbook Bonus Best Parlay Odds Online