The Atlanta Falcons are flying-high following a 3-0 start that has left many people thinking they could be the best team in the NFL. They’ll put their perfect season—which also includes an unblemished 3-0 mark against the spread—on the line Sunday in a home game against NFC South rival Carolina Panthers.
Atlanta is favored by 7-points over Carolina with the over/under listed at between 48 and 49 points depending on where you look.
The Falcons catch a team in the Panthers that looked in complete disarray when they were throttled by the New York Giants 31-7 last week. By contrast, Atlanta has been hitting on all cylinders this season.
Quarterback Matt Ryan is the league’s highest-rated passer and leads an offense that is averaging 31.3 points a game, good for 3rd in the NFL. The defense has been almost as good, as the 16 points a game the Falcons are allowing its opponents ranks 4th in the NFL. Additionally, the Falcon defense leads the entire NFL with seven interceptions.
The Falcons have plenty of weapons to support Ryan, with the most notable being wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White; tight end Tony Gonzales, and running back Michael Turner, all of whom have gotten off to fast starts.
Despite all the offensive firepower, perhaps the most important component of the Falcons’ undefeated record is the play of its secondary, which added former Pro Bowler Asanta Samuel at corner during the offseason and who have responded to the direction of new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Atlanta stymied Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton in both games a season ago and look poised to do the same this year.
The Falcons swept the two matchups between these teams last season. Atlanta won 31-17 in October as 3.5-point home favorites and won in Carolina 31-23 as 3-point favorites. The Falcons are bound to have a letdown at some point, but it doesn’t seem likely to happen in a divisional home game against a suspect opponent. Look for the Falcons to cover their 7-point NFL odds.