ATLANTA (1-6) AT CAROLINA (3-4)
TV: Ch. 5, NFL, 8:20 p.m
Line: Carolina by 2.5; O/U: 51.5
Put yourself in the Falcons' players cleats for a minute. You were part of unbelievable meltdowns in Weeks 2 and 3. Your head coach got fired after an 0-5 start. Now, after another heartbreaking loss for a franchise that continues to find new ways to lose after its epic Super Bowl collapse, you have to play a road game on a short week. Would you be up for this game? I know I wouldn't.
Even when the Falcons score, they lose points. Todd Gurley's regrettable touchdown run gave Atlanta a late lead Sunday, but instead of kicking a game-winning field goal with no time left, the TD allowed Detroit to drive for a 23-22 win.
The Panthers, on the other hand, have plenty to play for and will be motivated to get to .500. They've been competitive in every game. The players have bought into first-year coach Matt Rhule's system, with Teddy Bridgewater playing well and Robby Anderson making Jets fans miss him every week. On top of that, they could have Christian McCaffrey back (out the last five games).
Carolina beat Atlanta, 23-16, in Week 5, which turned out to be Dan Quinn's last game, and the Panthers will know where to attack an overmatched defense. I expect Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady to devise a smart game plan. Carolina has covered four of its last five, including in a 27-24 loss at New Orleans on Sunday.
Expect another strong effort from the Panthers. The Falcons? Like most of us, they can't wait till 2020 is over.
The pick: Carolina
Bob Glauber: Carolina
Tom Rock: Carolina
Al Iannazzone: Carolina