Week 8 will be kicked off by an NFC South Thursday Night Football matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The two teams rank third and fourth in a division that’s still up for grabs but only Carolina has a realistic shot at battling back into the playoff picture at this point.
The Falcons somehow managed to score a game-losing touchdown down the stretch against the Detroit Lions in Week 6 when Todd Gurley failed to prevent himself from falling into the end zone. His mistake afforded Matthew Stafford enough time to lead a game-winning drive that left Atlanta sitting at 1-5 at the end of regulation. The Falcons will look to avoid getting swept by a Panthers team that’s trending in the wrong direction.
The Panthers won three straight after Christian McCaffrey went down with an ankle injury in Week 2 but have now lost two straight. Their dynamic passing attack starring D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson has often offset by poor run defense in 2020 but has an ideal matchup against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Can the Panthers stay remain relevant in the NFC South by topping a team that appears destined to finish last in the division?
Date: Thursday, Oct. 29
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Falcons: #24 Overall — #23 offense, #27 defense, #21 special teams
Panthers: #16 Overall — #10 offense, #23 defense, #17 special teams
Falcons: +2.5, +125
Panthers: -2.5, -141
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Calvin Ridley, WR, $7,000
Ridley is a little more expensive than Julio Jones ($6,800) and has easily been Atlanta’s most effective pass catcher this season. He ranks sixth in targets with 64 and has the second-most receiving touchdowns (6) in the NFL. Carolina is sturdy against the pass but won’t be able to limit everyone. I think Matt Ryan’s favorite target so far can build on the eight catches for 136 yards he tallied against the Panthers earlier this season.
Todd Gurley, RB, $6,300
The Panthers have been gashed on the ground all season and have given up more DKFP to running backs than any squad in the NFL. Gurley had his best game of the season against Carolina and ran for 121 yards and a score. Now he’ll be on his home turf and will get a chance to redeem himself after costing his team a win in Week 6.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, $6,300
Bridgewater threw for 313 yards and two scores with no picks the last time he faced the Falcons. While Atlanta was able to buckle down and limit the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, Bridgewater has been a far more effective passer than Kirk Cousins and has two receivers who are top 10 in receiving yards.
Mike Davis, RB, $6,400
Davis will get a chance for a revenge game against the hometown team he torched earlier in the season. Davis rushed for a season-high 89 yards against the Falcons the last time he faced them and hauled in nine receptions for 60 yards and a score. There’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to tear it up while McCaffrey is out.