Take Atlanta +2.5 away vs. Carolina
Atlanta got a much needed victory on Sunday, going on the road to defeat the New York Jets 25-20. Matt Ryan had a solid game throwing the ball, as he was 18-29 for 254 yds and 2 TDs while Freeman added 82 rush yds with a 5.9 yds/carry average. Carolina was a surprising underdog on the road vs Tampa Bay where they were able to secure the victory easily 17-3. Carolina was able to force 3 turnovers including 2 INTs to pick up the slack for their slow-moving offense, which only produced 254 total offensive yards.
At the trade deadline, Carolina decided to trade away their best receiver in Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo in exchange for 2 picks in the 2018 draft. Although this may be a good long-term strategy, in won’t help them in the short term against their division rival. Both of these teams have seemed to disappoint at some point in 2017, but after 8 weeks are still both above .500 and fighting to chase New Orleans in the NFC North standings. When looking at total offense, Atlanta has the huge edge ranking 5th in the NFL in yards/game while Carolina is 21st and likely on a down trend with the loss of Benjamin, who was targeted 26 times in the last 3 games. Both of these teams have had issues in turnover differential, but the issue is committing turnovers for Carolina and lack of takeaways for Atlanta. Matt Ryan has not replicated his MVP season of 2016 but he has still been solid ranking 12th in passer rating, while Newton is only 26th of 32 qualified QBs. This should be a good battle but Carolina has struggled at home (1-2 record, 0-3 ATS) and Atlanta has been 31 on the road. Take the visiting team in this one.