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Hold your nose and lay the points

Two teams with nothing to play for, one with a fired coach, one with a potentially soon-to-be-fired coach. Ugh.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan at the line in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers square off in a Week 14 matchup that’s about bragging rights and not a whole lot else. The Saints win over Atlanta last week locked up the NFC South and eliminated the Falcons, and with wild card teams at 10-2 and 8-4, the 5-7 Panthers are probably not making it to the playoffs.

The Falcons are a field goal home favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the point total sitting at 47. The Falcons are -177 on the money line and the Panthers are +155. Atlanta is 4-8 against the spread this season and has gone over the point total four times. Carolina is 6-6 ATS and has gone over the point total eight times. These two teams squared off three weeks ago and Atlanta thumped them 29-3 to win outright as a 3.5-point road underdog.

Injury report

The Falcons will welcome back tight end Austin Hooper, which is a huge addition to this offense. They will however likely be without guard James Carpenter as he remains in the concussion protocol.

The Panthers are banged up with guard Greg Little sitting out practice due to an ankle injury and tight end Greg Olsen in the concussion protocol. Little is likely to miss another game with his injury.

Pick against the spread

This is arguably the toughest game to figure out. The Panthers just fired Ron Rivera and the Falcons could easily fire Dan Quinn by the time Black Monday rolls around. Neither team has anything of significant to play for at this point. There are no locks in this game, but the closest I’d say to that would be betting the over. This could turn into a shootout given how awful the defenses have been this year.

We’ve got two teams that are fairly evenly matched. They even have the same net yards per play (-0.3). This is a game where I’m inclined to lay the field goal with the home favorites. Anything more and I would not touch it. But I‘m intrigued by the return of Hooper and I think Kyle Allen will have his share of turnover issues. Bet the over, and if you need a side, it’s Falcons -3.

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