The Carolina Panthers are hopeful that running back Christian McCaffrey will return for Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. He hasn’t played since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire.
- The Carolina Panthers are 2.5-point home favorites over the Atlanta Falcons in the Week 8 edition of Thursday Night Football
- TNF betting record: 1-4-1 (-1.08 units won)
- There’s a good chance that Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (high ankle sprain) will play for the first time since Week 2
The Carolina Panthers found out that they might get their best player back for Thursday. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons continue to find new and bizarre ways to lose football games.
That 3-4 Carolina is listed as mere 2.5-point home favorites over the woeful 1-6 Falcons is more than a bit surprising. The Panthers already own a 23-16 Week 5 victory over the Falcons at Atlanta. Carolina opened as the 2.5-point chalk, so the line hasn’t moved.
Kickoff is set for 8:20 pm EDT. The forecast calls for clear skies, 10 mph wind and a game-time temperature of 64 degrees.
Falcons vs Panthers Week 8 Odds
|Atlanta Falcons||+114||+2.5 (-114)||O 49.5 (-115)|
|Carolina Panthers||-134||-2.5 (-106)||U 49.5 (-105)|
Odds taken Oct. 28th at FanDuel
Atlanta swept the season series between these NFC South rivals in 2019 and had won five in a row over Carolina prior to this season’s setback. The Panthers haven’t won consecutive games from the Falcons since 2014-15, a span of 13 games.
Falcons Stumble It Away
All the Falcons needed to do to defeat the Detroit Lions last week was run down the clock and kick a chip-shot field goal as time ran out. But Atlanta running back Todd Gurley accidentally fell into the end zone instead of dropping at the one-yard line.
Todd Gurley tried to stop from scoring to run the clock out, but couldn’t hold up.
The Lions scored the game-winning TD with 0 seconds on the clock.
— ESPN (@espn) October 25, 2020
That left Detroit 1:04 on the clock, enough time to march downfield for a game-winning touchdown. It was the third time in six losses that the Falcons blew a fourth-quarter lead.
Atlanta’s defense is allowing nearly 30 points (29.6) per game this season.
McCaffrey Good to Go?
Earlier this week, the Panthers designated running back Christian McCaffrey to return from IR. He’s been out since Week 2 due to a high ankle sprain.
Christian McCaffrey is back at Panthers practice, per @MylesASimmons 👀
CMC hasn’t played since Week 2 pic.twitter.com/5CTO5QrEd4
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) October 26, 2020
McCaffrey has been a full participant in practice this week. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule indicated hopefulness that McCaffrey would play Thursday, adding that the process won’t be rushed.
McCaffrey led the NFL last season with 2,392 all-purpose yards. In two games this season, McCaffrey picked up 223 yards from scrimmage and scored four rushing touchdowns.
Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker
Beyond McCaffrey, the Panthers are listing three starters as questionable. Those players are left tackle Russell Okung (calf), right guard John Miller (ankle) and left defensive tackle Zack Kerr (toe). Kerr missed practice time this week.
Atlanta starting left defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) is out. He played 23 snaps against Detroit, so this decision is fueling speculation that the team is looking to trade the pass rusher.
The #Falcons have had trade talks about DE Takk McKinley and other teams believe the former first-round pick gets moved before Tuesday’s deadline, though no deal is imminent, per sources. McKinley (groin) was held out of practice the past 2 days. Atlanta visits Carolina tomorrow.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 28, 2020
The Falcons also list four offensive starters as questionable – wide receivers Julio Jones (hip) and Russell Gage (knee), center Alex Mack (elbow) and right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee). Jones and Gage were limited in practice this week.
Looking at the data, there’s reason to believe in the Falcons heading into this game. Atlanta is 6-1 against the spread in the last seven road games. The Falcons also are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog.
On the flip side of that coin, the Panthers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games. Carolina is also 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games as a favorite.
Flying into TNF pic.twitter.com/Cd6QCk3rz9
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 27, 2020
That being said, the most recent numbers paint an entirely different story. Atlanta is 1-4 ATS in the past five games. Carolina is 4-1 against the spread in its last five games.
The Falcons look like a broken squad. The Panthers aren’t world beaters but at least they’ve shown competitiveness against some good teams.
Best bet: Carolina Panthers -2.5 (-106)
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.