Tuesday, October 11, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (Week 6, 2011-12)

The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are two franchises who are heading in opposite directions. The Panthers are playing competitively under Cam Newton. The Falcons have as many losses after five games as they did in 2010.

The early spread on this game is Falcons (-4). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Y! Sports and Injury Reports from CBS Sports as of October 11, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they’ll change throughout the week.

Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Only)
Carolina Panthers (5-0)
Atlanta Falcons (4-1)

Key Injuries
C Todd McClure, CB Christopher Owens, DE Jonathan Abraham, WR Julio Jones, LB Sean Weatherspoon, OT Lee Ziemba, LB Omar Gaither

Keys to the Game
  • The Fourth Quarter
  • The Panthers’ Run Defense vs. Michael Turner, especially in the fourth quarter
  • Psyche of the Falcons after another loss to the Green Bay Packers
  • Can the Falcons contain “Cam Jam” and Steve Smith?
  • Will Matt Ryan lose consecutive games in the dome?
  • Do the Falcons have too many offensive weapons?
  • Can the Panthers eliminate the turnovers?
  • Can Eric Weems be a threat against the Panthers’ sluggish special-team coverage units?
  • Which team will abandon their ground game first? The Falcons had better not.
  • Can the Falcons defense stop anyone from scoring?

I feel like this contest will come down to the fourth quarter. Cam Newton and the Panthers haven’t been able to closeout most of these close games. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been relatively dependable during the latter stages of the game. The Panthers really need a lead heading into the fourth quarter because Michael Turner allows them to milk that clock against a horrible run defense.

I’m reluctantly going with the Falcons. However, I’d be very concerned with their psyche right now. They’re 2-3 after upgrades that were supposed to put them over the Green Bay Packers. They still surrendered 25 points to Green Bay even after numerous drops and sloppy play from them. The Falcons have surrendered 25 points or more in four of their first five games.

The Falcons’ season could easily go in a tailspin if they abandon their running game again and fall to 2-4. They can’t go 0-2 in the division. I’d consider this as a must-win game.

Final Predictions:
Against the Spread: Carolina Panthers (+4)
Straight: Atlanta Falcons 24, Carolina Panthers 23

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