The Carolina Panthers travel to Atlanta in Week Four of the NFL season to take on the Falcons in an NFC South battle. According to the NFL odds, the Falcons are 7-point favorites to keep their perfect record intact.
The Panthers face a tall task this week. Atlanta, which is also a perfect 3-0 against the spread this season, has been arguably the best team in pro football during the first three weeks. Carolina, meanwhile, has struggled to a 1-2 record that includes a 36-7 pasting at the hands of the New York Giants last week.
A major issue for the Panthers has been scoring points. Though its offense has been able to move the ball—it ranks in the middle of the league in yards per game—reaching paydirt has been another issue entirely. The Panthers are averaging just 17.3 points a game, which is the third-worst production in the NFL .
For the Panthers to have any chance in this one, quarterback Cam Newton will have to re-discover the dynamic form he showed last year when he was named NFL Rookie of the Year. So far this year, Newton has thrown five interceptions and just two touchdowns—the fewest in the league by a starting quarterback. He was also blasted during and after last week’s loss by veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who chastised the quarterback for his lack of leadership both on and off the field.
On a brighter note for the Panthers, several players that have been out with injury are expected to return with the most notable being running back James Stewart.
Carolina lost both games to the Falcons last season and more of that could be in the offing this week. The Panthers are a team in disarray, while Atlanta is hitting on all cylinders. This one could be a rout and the prediction here is the Falcons easily cover the 7-point spread.