The Carolina Panthers shocked a lot of people in the NFL betting sites community this week by firing head coach Ron Rivera. That this was done at this point caught a lot of people off guard. But perhaps that’s exactly why the move was made. Perhaps they can show some new life before the season ends.
It is under these circumstances that the Panthers travel to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. It’s a game will take place at 1 PM ET at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
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Why the change NOW?
The way was explained by owner David Tepper is that the Panthers to get a bit of a head starts on finding a new head coach. They might look within the college ranks. Or they could get a jump on doing their evaluations of assistants. There are also players to be evaluated from now until the end.
Right now the arrangement is for Perry Fewell, the secondary coach, to take over. And Norv Turner, whose been recycled a few times a head coach, is now considered “special assistant to the head coach,” whatever that means. Neither of these guys is a good bet to be around after the season’s over.
Admittedly this will be an uphill battle for the team, which must win out and get a lot of help to be in the post-seasoned picture. It’s probably not going to happen, and Tepper acknowledges that.
But you are looking at a situation where this team has, in the space of a month, gone from a wild-card contender to a loser of four games in a row. And dropping a 29-21 decision to the Washington Redskins was definitely a low point.
So was the 29-3 defeat suffered at the hands of these Falcons just three weeks ago. In that game, quarterback Kyle Allen threw four interceptions and Carolina, even with Christian McCaffrey, managed only 77 rushing yards.
Here are the numbers….
In the NFL betting odds, complete with reduced juice, the Falcons are favored at home:
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons NFL Week 14 Betting Odds
|Panthers||+3½ (-110)||47½ (-110)||+166|
|Falcons||-3½ (-110)||47½ (-110)||-195|
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Will Quinn get fired too?
The Falcons ended the first half of their schedule with a 1-7 record. Then almost inexplicably, they chalked up road victories at New Orleans and Charlotte by a combined score of 55-12. Alas, this did not signal a turnaround, as consecutive defeats to the Buccaneers and Saints followed. So now they’re just playing out the string with its 3-9 mark. And observers are wondering whether Dan Quinn can possibly avoid the axe at season’s end.
It’s actually been pretty shameful how the Panthers have defended the run. They have given up a bloated 5.3 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns on the ground. Both of those figures are worst in the league. Washington was utterly dominant at the line of scrimmage against them, with 248 rushing yards.
Pressure on Ryan is a must
If the Panthers are going to have any edge whatsoever here, is going to lie in their ability to rush the quarterback. With 46 sacks, they stand a pretty good chance of getting pressure on Matt Ryan. And let’s be honest – the Falcons’ offensive philosophy is not predicated on establishing a running game, as they have thrown the ball more than two-thirds of the time. It should be noted that Ryan was sacked nine times by New Orleans on Thanksgiving.
Still, Kyle Allen is going to have to bring something very positive to the table. Unquestionably he is looking for some redemption after those four picks in the previous meeting. On balance he’s played pretty well. But he doesn’t match the firepower of his counterpart in Atlanta.
What the Panthers DO have is the best offensive player on the field in McCaffrey. The former MVP candidate has accumulated 1811 total yards from scrimmage. What they also have, we might add, is probably more speed in the receiving corps and they’ve had in recent years. It’s just a matter of Allen being able to stretch out this defense. And it is a defense that might be somewhat vulnerable. The Falcons allow 7.7 yards per pass attempt. And they definitely give opposing passers plenty of time, with only 18 sacks. So you would have to ask yourself whether their five sacks of Allen in the previous meeting was a fluke.
Frankly, we like the revenge angle here, and there is often a boost when the team makes a coaching change, although Rivera was by all accounts popular.
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