Losing games in the NFL is not difficult, but the Atlanta Falcons deserve credit as they continue to find new ways to do it. The Falcons have squandered fourth-quarter leads in three of their six losses this season, with two of the setbacks coming on the final play of the game. Atlanta will attempt to bounce back from its latest such defeat when it visits the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff from Bank of America Stadium is set for 8:20 p.m. ET. 

The Falcons (1-6) scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:04 remaining on Sunday, giving Detroit enough time to pull out a 23-22 victory. The Panthers (3-4) fought hard in New Orleans but ultimately dropped a 27-24 decision in Week 7. Carolina is a 2.5-point favorite in the latest Panthers vs. Falcons odds from William Hill, while the over-under is 49.5. Before locking in any Falcons vs. Panthers picks, make sure you see the latest Thursday Night Football predictions from SportsLine’s proven projection model. 

The model, which simulates every NFL game 10,000 times, is up over $7,800 for $100 players on top-rated NFL picks since its inception five-plus years ago. It’s off to a strong 15-7 roll on top-rated NFL picks this season. The model enters Week 8 on an incredible 111-72 run on top-rated NFL picks that dates back to the 2017 season.

The model ranked in the Top 10 on NFLPickWatch in three of the past four years on straight-up NFL picks and beat more than 95 percent of CBS Sports office pool players three times during that span. Anyone who has followed it is way up.

Now, the model has set its sights on Panthers vs. Falcons. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the NFL odds from William Hill and trends for Falcons vs. Panthers:

  • Panthers vs. Falcons spread: Carolina -2.5
  • Panthers vs. Falcons over-under: 49.5 points
  • Panthers vs. Falcons money line: Carolina -140, Atlanta +120
  • CAR: Panthers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five Thursday games
  • ATL: Falcons are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road contests

Why the Panthers can cover

Carolina posted a 23-16 victory at Atlanta in Week 5 to end its five-game losing streak in the all-time series and did it without its most dangerous offensive weapon. But the Panthers could have that player on the field Thursday night, as Christian McCaffrey practiced on Tuesday and is eligible to return from injured reserve. The 24-year-old running back has missed Carolina’s last five games with a high-ankle sprain.

The eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, McCaffrey joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only players in league history to record 1,000 yards both rushing (1,387) and receiving (1,005) in the same campaign last season. He made his presence felt before getting hurt this year, recording a pair of rushing touchdowns in the Panthers’ first two games.

If McCaffrey isn’t ready to return, Carolina will continue to hand off the ball to Mike Davis, who registered 149 scrimmage yards and a TD against Atlanta in Week 5.

Why the Falcons can cover

Atlanta has gotten off the strong starts this season, scoring first in five of its seven contests, but hasn’t had much success closing games out, a trait that cost coach Dan Quinn his job five weeks into the campaign. The Falcons got the job done against Minnesota in Raheem Morris’ debut as interim coach and were on their way to a second straight win before reverting back to their old ways versus the Lions. Despite the disastrous outcome, Matt Ryan had his second straight strong performance following a trio of sub-par efforts.

The former NFL MVP completed 73.8 percent of his pass attempts against Detroit for 338 yards and a touchdown after throwing for 371 yards and four scores in a victory at Minnesota. Ryan has amassed 2,181 passing yards this season with 12 TD tosses and only three interceptions. Top target Julio Jones has 16 catches for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two games since missing the previous meeting with Carolina due to a hamstring injury.

How to make Panthers vs. Falcons picks

SportsLine’s model is leaning over on the total. In fact, it says both starting quarterbacks will combine for nearly 600 passing yards. It also says one side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time. You can only get the pick at SportsLine. 

So who wins Falcons vs. Panthers on Thursday Night Football? And which side of the spread hits well over 50 percent the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Panthers vs. Falcons spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up more than $7,800 on its top-rated NFL picks, and find out.

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