Ok, so Thursday Night Football has habitually been the place to find really bad teams playing really bad games. Still, people watch because FOOTBAWWW. In 2020, it looks like the schedule gods have blessed us with some exciting games despite (some) bad teams playing. The Bucs/Bears game came down to the wire with Nick Foles getting the best of Brady once again. Last week’s battle of mediocrity saw Daniel Jones trip on his way to a sure touchdown and Boston Scott cap the game with an amazing catch for the Eagles with seconds remaining. This week’s matchup, despite being the bottom dwellers of the NFC South, could produce similar excitement.
Why the Panthers could win:
Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has played admirably despite not having Christian McCaffrey in the backfield.
Of all the teams this season, the Panthers just can’t seem to grasp an identity. Are they good? Are they bad? Does anyone care either way? I for one, do care. I’m all about a feel good/underdog story which is why I’m putting this game on the shoulders of Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater of course had his horrific injury that some were saying he’d never play again. After serving as Drew Brees’ replacement in New Orleans, he received a starting opportunity with Carolina and has played well! Throughout 7 games, Bridgewater has compiled a passer rating of 99.1 and a completion percentage of 72.2%. With the Falcons defense averaging 333 yards passing against per game, Bridgewater could have a field day set up for him.
There’s also potential good news for Panthers fans – CMC could be back in action this Thursday! After having missed 5 weeks with an ankle injury, Christian McCaffrey has not been ruled out for this week…yet. The rushing attack in CMC’s absence has been fairly mediocre with Mike Davis posting <300 yards in 5 games. Getting CMC back would be the spark plug this offense needs in order to generate a 2 headed monster attack with Bridgewater & CMC.
Why the Falcons could win:
After a heartbreaking loss to the Lions in week 7, the Falcons could use that as extra motivation for the short week against the Panthers.
Despite having a high powered offense, the Falcons just can’t seem to fire on all cylinders in 2020. Matt Ryan has the most passing yards in the NFL and Todd Gurley has been able to find his resurgence in Atlanta while being tied for the league lead in rushing TDs with 7. Calvin Ridley has put up some big numbers this season with 6 TDs and over 600 yards receiving. Julio Jones is back in action and had a good week 6 and 7. There is a chance for this offense to get it together this week!
The Panthers defense is very banged up as well. Carolina recently lost two-time Pro Bowl DT Kawann Short to a season-ending shoulder injury. Two other players, DE Yetur Gross-Matos and S Juston Burris have been placed on short-term injured reserve. Subsequently, the Saints put up 27 points on this defense and I would expect another high output from the Falcons.
So, who’s going to win?
The Panthers got the best of the Falcons in week 5 with a score of 23-16 in New Orleans. However, if CMC doesn’t play in this game, I believe the Falcons are going to take this one. Even if McCaffrey does play, who knows if he is going to get his full workload; he certainly can’t be 100% just yet. With a banged up Panthers defense and a fully healthy Falcons offense, it’s going to be a high scoring game. I believe the Falcons will prevail with a score of 35-21, not so much a nail-biter, but at least there will be lots of offense.
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