In the 4:25 p.m. E.T. game featuring the Carolina Panthers (11-4 Overall, 5-2 Away) at the Atlanta Falcons (9-6 Overall, 4-3 Home) if the Falcons, they secure the final wild card spot in the NFC. It’s that simple. They can lose and, if the Seattle Seahawks lose today, back into it also. But they’d rather win. Our Carolina plays Atlanta 2017 week 17 NFL free pick has the Falcons at -4.0 and the over/under at 44.5. The Panthers, who have already grabbed a postseason berth, have won three straight beating Green bay, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay. The Falcons, who are 3-2 for their last five, lost to the New Orleans Saints last week 23-13. Just two weeks earlier, they had beat the Saints 20-17. As noted, Atlanta need this win today.
Carolina has been averaging 23.5 PPG. In their last five games, they have been averaging 28. PPG. They are holding opponents to 20.3 PPG. Again, over their last five contests, opponents are putting up 25.0 PPG. QB Cam Newton (60.5 COMP%, 21 TDs, 13 INTs) certainly makes things interesting. With 128 carries and 695 total rushing yards, he is the team’s top ground-gainer. He’s averaging 5.4 YPA and has scored six running touchdowns. Top wideout Devin Funchess (61 REC, 792 YDs, 13.0 AVG, 7 TDs) is questionable with a shoulder injury. Dual-threat RB/WR Christian McCaffery has 75 catches for 611 yards and five TDs. RB Jonathan Stewart has 198 carries for 680 yards and six scores. The Carolina defense is sound. They’ve accumulated 49 sacks, 16 FF, and 10 INTs. They also have 51 TFL and 49 PD. LB Luke Kuechly is especially effective, leading the team in tackles with 115, TFL with nine, and interceptions with three.
- Offense is playing hot, scoring a lot
- Defense offers solid play
- Newton will control team’s fate
The Falcons have average 22.1 PPG this season and have given up 20.3 PPG. In their last five contests, the team has averaged just 20.0 PPG. At that same time, they have kept teams to an average of 19.0 PPG. Matt Ryan (64.9 COMP%, 19 TDs, 12 INTs) has a good number of skilled receivers to toss to, but his top-man, Julio Jones (83 REC, 1,364 YDs, 16.4 AVG, 3 TDs), is listed as questionable. WR Luke Kuechly and TE Austin Hooper have five and three TDs respectively. The rushing tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have accumulated 12 TDs total and more than 1,400 ground-yards together. The Atlanta defense can be spotty. They have just five picks and 37 sacks. They do have 13 FF and eight recoveries, which are both sound numbers.
- Fine ground attack
- Defense could be more consistent
- Ryan not as crisp as he was last season
Three Important Takeaways
- QB edge is a tossup
- RB is a tossup
- Defensive edge to Carolina
Our Panthers Play Falcons Pick
Neither team offers much leeway when it comes to PF versus PA. Carolina is +3.2 and Atlanta comes in at +2.2. Traditionally, Carolina has a tough time scoring in Atlanta, but lately their last eight games or so the Panthers have been putting points up on the scoreboard and the over has been a solid bet. The Falcons have a lot at stake here; Carolina less so. However, the Panthers are said to be focused on winning this game. That means that they do not intend to pull any punches. As it often is in the final week of the NFL, this is a tough game to bet. We do like the over at 44.5. Plus, our Carolina plays Atlanta 2017 week 17 NFL free pick is the Panthers at +4.0.