Week 8 of the NFL season gets kicked off with a matchup between the Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers. The two NFC South rivals will look to keep pace in the division, sitting behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
In this article, I will identify some of the areas you can look to for player prop bets on Thursday night. Not all of the sportsbooks have the odds out yet (as of Wednesday morning), but I will update each section as it becomes available.
As always, the odds in this article come to us via Bet365 and William Hill.
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Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Thursday, October 29, 2020, | 8:20 p.m. EST | Watch: NFL NetworkBank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
Total: 49 Points
Christian McCaffrey & Mike Davis – Receptions + Receiving Yards
In one of those moments straight out of a WWE episode, McCaffrey returned to practice on Tuesday (after a multiple-week absence) donning a red practice jersey – only to rip it off and throw on the regular one. I thought that was a good sign that he’ll be back in the lineup on Thursday night, but then there was this:
As of this writing on Wednesday morning, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said it’s a longshot that McCaffrey plays.
If McCaffrey doesn’t suit up, it’ll be Davis dialing in on a Falcons team that is brutal at defending pass catching RBs. Back in Week 5 against ATL, Davis had nine catches on 10 targets for 60 yards and a TD. While the Falcons have been much better in this regard over the last two weeks, Bridgewater is going to check the ball down no matter what, though. In fact, he is averaging 8.14 RB targets since joining the Panthers.
Robbie Anderson & DJ Moore – Receptions + Receiving Yards + TDs
ATL ranks dead-last in explosive pass rate allowed and 30th in pass defense efficiency. That right there gives me all the motivation I need to wager on all of the Anderson and Moore prop bets I can find.
Seven different WRs have 100+ receiving yards and four have gone for 80+ as well. In addition, ATL has allowed a total of seven TDs to opposing WRs. Anderson’s 640 receiving yards ranks second in the NFL while Moore is seventh best with 567 receiving yards.
Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley – Receptions + Receiving Yards + TDs
Both Julio and Ridley find themselves in a decent spot against a Panthers’ pass defense that is slightly above league average this season. But let’s not kid ourselves – a big game can be had here by either player.
First of all, we need to discuss Julio’s incredible Thursday night games since 2014:
11-22-2018 @ NO
11 rec, 14 tgt, 147 yds
9-6-2018 @ PHI
10 rec, 19 tgt, 169 yds
12-7-2017 vs. NO
5 rec, 11 tgt, 98 yds
11-3-2016 @ TB
8 rec, 11 tgt, 111 yds, TD
10-15-2015 @ NO
6 rec, 10 tgt, 93 yds
9-18-2014 vs. TB
9 rec, 11 tgt, 161 yds, 2 TD
Of course, there are three games against the Saints and two against the Buccaneers – both NFC South divisional rivals, just like the Panthers – in this span. While his career game log isn’t nearly as fruitful against them (no 100+ yards games since 2017), this is certainly a spot the Falcons want to get their main man going.
The Panthers have allowed three WRs to total 100+ receiving yards this season, with one of them being Ridley. In fact, his 136 yards against Carolina is the most by an individual player this season. It should be noted that Julio did not play in that first meetings between the teams, allowing Ridley to soak up all the targets that day.
As of this writing, Julio does carry a questionable tag for Thursday night so be aware of that. Landing on the injury report is nothing new for him, so it’s possible that this instance is just a precautionary measure.
Matt Ryan – Pass Attempts (37.5)
The most clear-cut way to beat the Panthers this season has been by running the football. However, things are going to change a bit with a short week. I’d imagine the Falcons don’t want to push Todd Gurley too much, especially being an oft-injured player in recent memory.
Being the road team also works to Ryan’s prop bet in this regard, as they may fall behind and rely on the pass more.
It also helps that he already has the second-most passing attempts (286) and the Panthers have the fewest sacks (6) in the NFL this season. Ryan has exceeded the 37.5 mark in pass attempts 10 times over the last 15 games.
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