The Atlanta Falcons are looking to close out a game when they face the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. The Falcons (1-6) lost their third game this season after leading in the fourth quarter when the Lions drove for a last-second touchdown and a 23-22 win last week. Todd Gurley's touchdown when the Falcons could have milked the clock was the latest gaffe in a season that already has cost coach Dan Quinn his job. The Panthers (3-4) come off a 27-24 loss to the first-place Saints.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. William Hill lists Carolina as a 1.5-point favorite in its latest Falcons vs. Panthers odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 52 after falling as low as 49. Before making any Panthers vs. Falcons picks, check out what SportsLine's resident Falcons expert, R.J White has to say.
CBS Sports' NFL editor, White enters Week 8 as SportsLine's hottest expert. He's on a sizzling 17-7 run against the spread that's returned his followers nearly $1,000. And it's no surprise, as White twice has cashed huge in the world's most prestigious football handicapping competition, the Las Vegas SuperContest.
In addition, White has a particularly keen eye for the Falcons. In fact, he is 32-18 all-time on picks for or against the Falcons, including last week when he was all over the visiting Lions getting 2.5 points in Atlanta. The result: Detroit won outright. Anyone who has followed his NFL picks is way up.
- Falcons vs. Panthers spread: Carolina -1.5
- Falcons vs. Panthers over-under: 52
- Falcons vs. Panthers money line: Atlanta +105, Carolina -125
- ATL: WR Julio Jones has 16 receptions for 234 yards and two TDs over the past two weeks.
- CAR: WRs Robby Anderson and DJ Moore have a TD reception of at least 74 yards this season.
Why the Panthers can cover
Carolina is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games in October, and Bridgewater has been getting plenty of help from running back Mike Davis. The former journeyman is second on the team with 37 receptions and leads the team with 284 rushing yards as the Panthers have played without star running back Christian McCaffrey the past five weeks. Bridgewater is completing 72.2 percent of his passes, is fifth in the league with 1,930 passing yards and has rushed for 131.
Wideouts Robby Anderson and DJ Moore have been making chunk plays for the Panthers, who are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight Week 8 games. Anderson is second in the league in receiving yards (640), while Moore is seventh in yards per catch (18.3). Curtis Samuel has 25 catches and is a key third-down target.
Why the Falcons can cover
Atlanta is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven road games, and the offense revolves around the passing game. Quarterback Matt Ryan leads the league in passing with 2,181 yards and has 12 TDs against three interceptions. Receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley both average more than 14 yards per catch, and Ridley has scored six times for the league's third-best passing attack (295.6 yards per game).
Gurley provides balance, ranking sixth in the league with 485 rushing yards, and he could come out angry after his misstep last week. He faces a defense that allows 124 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons are 4-1 against the spread in their last five after allowing more than 350 total yards in the previous game, and the defense has forced eight turnovers and has eight sacks.
How to make Falcons vs. Panthers picks
White has analyzed this matchup from all sides and he is leaning under on the total. He's also has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He's only sharing it here.
So who wins Panthers vs. Falcons on Thursday Night Football? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine right now to find out which side of the Falcons vs. Panthers spread you should be all over, all from the expert who's 32-18 on Atlanta picks, and find out.