Thursday Night Football in Week 8 of the NFL sets the stage for an NFC South rematch, as the Atlanta Falcons head into Bank of America Stadium to battle the Carolina Panthers for their chance at redemption from their Week 5 23-16 loss. Using the handy Awesemo OddsShopper tool, we’ll seek to identify best NFL picks available for the matchup while looking at potential soft spots in the betting lines based on what we’ve seen this season.
Under Matt Rhule’s first season as head coach, the Panthers have shown several glimpses of looking like a team turning things around from recent years, and all the while without star running back Christian McCaffrey since he suffered an ankle injury in Week 2. But since their win over the Falcons in Week 5, the Panthers have lost two close games to the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints by a combined 10 points, which easily could’ve been a 1-1 split. The Falcons were one Todd Gurley accidental touchdown away from going 2-0 since the firing of previous head coach Dan Quinn and have looked great on the offensive side of the ball. But in Falcons fashion, they found a way to get Gurley into the end zone on the one and only play they needed to avoid said outcome.
Will Atlanta achieve vengeance on the road over their Week 5 loss to the Panthers (along with last week’s scoring blunder)? Or will Carolina bounce back from their recent narrow losses to sweep the regular season divisional matchup 2-0? We’ll dive into some NFL picks with OddsShopper and tune into Thursday’s game to find out while hopefully cashing some tickets.
* NFL Odds as of writing. Click HERE for up to date odds using the OddsShopper tool.
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NFL Picks + Odds Shopping: Thursday Night Football Best Bets | Falcons vs. Panthers
NFL Pick: RB Todd Gurley, OVER 63.5 Rushing Yards (-115, BetMGM)
Despite losing their Week 5 matchup with the Panthers, the Falcons had a few bright spots that shined in defeat. Todd Gurley was among them, as he carried the ball just 14 times but still rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown. The rushing yardage proposition for Gurley on Thursday Night Football at 63.5 rushing yards becomes an interesting one given his increased workload as of late and a lacking Panthers rush defense.
Gurley’s consumed 64.2% of the Falcons’ rushing attempts while averaging 69.3 yards per game this season and accounting for the sixth-most rushing yards among NFL running backs. Since his last matchup with Carolina in Week 5, Gurley’s workload has increased to 71.3% of Atlanta’s rushing attempts and had at least 20 attempts per game in both of the recent two outings since losing to Carolina. Accidental touchdowns aside, Gurley has had a surprisingly remarkable season thus far while staying healthier than many of us had anticipated through seven weeks.
The Panthers rush defense has been extremely lackluster this season and shown little signs of improvement in recency. Dealing with an injury to their left defensive tackle Zach Kerr, they’ll fill in with rookie Bravvion Roy should Kerr miss tonight (which appears likely after missing Tuesday’s practice on a short week). The Panthers are also reeling within their depth at defensive end, while Brian Burns has been performing admirably by posing added pressure to quarterbacks with three sacks and as many forced fumbles.
Over the past two games played since their Week 5 win in Atlanta, the Panthers have allowed 188 rushing yards and 4.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs (which happens to be Gurley’s average this season). If the carries remain intact anywhere close to the 20 per game he’s been seeing lately, the likelihood of Gurley eclipsing the 64-yard mark is very much in favor of the over. And considering that we’ve seen no improvement to an ailing Carolina defensive unit, particularly up front, the over at modest -115 juice is a welcome wager.
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NFL Pick: QB Teddy Bridgewater, OVER 280.5 Passing Yards (-112, SugarHouse)
Despite the absence of Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers offense has looked rather impressive under Teddy Bridgewater‘s quarterbacking, which was an enormous concern of many skeptics entering the 2020 season. Alas, Bridgewater has forged the second-best completion percentage of qualified starting quarterbacks at 72.2% completion rate, just beneath Drew Brees‘ 72.6%. Bridgewater has also thrown for 1,930 passing yards, accounting for fifth-most among NFL quarterbacks, behind Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow; that is some great company to be among this season when it comes to passing yardage. Against this Falcons secondary, a proposition wager of 280.5 passing yards for Bridgewater seems that much more achievable, especially considering he’s done it once already just three games ago.
The Falcons secondary has allowed the most passing yards at 2,411 to opposing quarterbacks (Seattle is second-most at 2,243 passing yards allowed by comparison). This is the same group who’s three weeks removed from getting diced for 313 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to Bridgewater. Since their Week 5 loss to Carolina, the Falcons have done absolutely nothing to improve on the defensive side of the ball, still very much the same atrocity against the pass as they have been the five games prior. They allowed 683 passing yards over the course of the two games following their loss to Carolina.
While Bridgewater hasn’t shined nearly as brightly since Week 5 and prior, he’s averaged 235 passing yards per game with a dreary 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio ever since besting the Falcons. However, one of these two sides is looking for a rejuvenation match, and we see no signal of Atlanta suddenly carving a statue out of a dirt mound in regards to their defensive turnaround. With the Panthers’ wide receiver studs D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson playing electric, the sky’s the limit for Bridgewater in this Week 8 iteration of Thursday Night Football. Since their Week 5 meeting at Atlanta, Moore has averaged 93 receiving yards per game and Anderson 75.5, while both have averaged 11 yards per target in their past two games since.
At just -112 house juice at a fairly achievable 281 passing yards or more to cash our tickets upon, the passing yardage prop for Bridgewater is all too enticing to ignore given the undeniable holes in Atlanta’s secondary.
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