The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers tangle tonight on Thursday Night Football.  This game is a rematch of a game between these same two teams just a couple of weeks ago in Week 5, when the Panthers defeated the Falcons by a final score of 23-16, and the Falcons, with a new head coach, are looking for revenge.

The Falcons Are Out For Blood

Week 5’s game was a hard loss for Matt Ryan and the Falcons.  Their offense can score points, but then the defense collapses and gives them right back.  Teddy Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns last time out against the Falcons defense.  The frustrated Falcons have only been able to win one game beating the now 1-5 Minnesota Vikings.

Veteran QB Matt Ryan is not accustomed to hanging out on the bottom rungs of the ladder.  However, it’s hardly his fault.  The entire Falcons program is in a state of free-fall since the firing of GM Thomas Dmitroff and head coach Dan Quinn after that devastating loss to the Panthers in Week 5.

Atlanta’s New Head Coach Looks To Impress

Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach of the Atlanta team and won his first game against the Vikings, but has been winless ever since, losing three games by four points or less.  The situation there in Atlanta is unstable, to say the least.  Even so, this is a big game for the Falcons, they want to win this one badly.

On the bright side for Atlanta, they get the great Julio Jones back at wide receiver and he can be a game changer when he connects with Ryan.  On the Panthers side of the ball, they still might be without the services of their highly respected running back Christian McCaffrey.  CMC has been cleared to play, but Carolina might keep him out unless he’s needed.  If that’s the case, running back Mike Davis, who has been doing an admirable job, will continue to fill in for McCaffrey.

Teddy Bridgewater, who currently boasts a passer rating of 70.2%, has one of the top receiving duos in the NFL in Robby Anderson and DJ Moore.  They have combined for 1,207 yards in the first seven games this year, a new Carolina record, and they’ll be looking to improve this Sunday.

Big Plays in the NFL have been defined as runs of ten yards or more & completed passes of 20 yards or more.  So far this season, the Carolina Panthers have come up with 44 big plays, which currently ranks 10th in the league.

The Panthers Get The Advantage With Oddsmakers

For Thursday Night Football in Week 8, the Panthers are 2-point favorites on the moneyline, with the Over/Under set at 51.  Given that Carolina is the home team here, that makes the odds pretty much even in this traditional NFC South rivalry.

The Panthers do not play in a closed stadium, as does Atlanta, and the weather is expected to become a factor in tonight’s’ contest in Charlotte, due to the passage of the remnants of Hurricane Zeta.  It could get muddy and ugly, and the Falcons ground game, led by the ever-elusive Todd Gurley could gain a slight advantage over the Panther D if it comes down to that.

The Falcons are not going to the NFL playoffs this year.  With everything going on in the front office, the whole team already knows that.  So, this game with the Panthers is more about pride than anything else, and Matty Ryan has a lot of pride and a lot of heart.  Don’t be surprised if the Falcons give the Panthers all that they can handle in the game; the combination of the heated rivalry between the two clubs and the inclement weather could make this one a classic.