NFL Week 14: Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers Sun. Dec. 11, 2011 1 p.m. EST

There is no question at this point in time that the Carolina Panthers are a team on the rise in the NFL and could quite possibly be a force to be reckoned in the near future. This season rookie phenom Cam Newton has single-handedly turned this football team around with some impressive play under center for Carolina, but the Panthers have still struggled to closeout games and as a result have a 4-8 record heading into Week 14.

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Even though the Panthers’ record isn’t very pleasing to the eye right now with the playoffs out of the question this season, Cam Newton and company have won two games in a row and have started to create some much-needed momentum moving forward. Despite gaining that momentum that the team has been looking for over the entire season, the Panthers will have a very tough challenge ahead this week by hosting the division rival Atlanta Falcons.

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Matt Rya...

Matt Ryan

As for the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan and company are coming off a disappointing loss to the Houston Texans in which they were only able to score 10 points. The Falcons have definitely turned their season around after playing some streaky football in the first half of the regular season, but this loss against a depleted Texans defense and against a rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates raises questions about whether or not the Falcons can contend for a playoffs spot.

With the red-hot New Orleans Saints cruising to a NFC South division title, the Atlanta Falcons will have to fight for a playoff berth through one of the two spots in the NFC Wild Card. At this point in time, the Falcons are in the playoffs as they hold the tie-breaker over the Detroit Lions in terms of head-to-head win percentage, but with the Lions on their heels right now the Falcons must continue to win football games and distance themselves from teams like Detroit.

Obviously, with the Carolina Panthers out of playoff contention and out of the hunt for the NFC South division title, this up-and-coming football team will be playing for the future of the franchise. With that being said, this is an important game for the Panthers as they will meet the division rival Falcons over and over again in the years to come with potential heated rivalry on the horizon.

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With a playoff spot potentially on the line and a statement game against a division rival, the Atlanta Falcons will be coming out with a chip on their shoulder in Week 14 and will do everything in their power to come out on top and continue to distance themselves from the Detroit Lions in the playoff hunt.

As of right now, the Atlanta Falcons have been favored to come out on top with a -3 point spread. Even though the Carolina Panthers will give Matt Ryan a run for their money, the Falcons will get the win and cover.

Take the Falcons at -3.

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