As the GREAT James Taylor sang, “I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.” Gonna call Sweet Baby James and let him know that I’m bringing my wallet along but going in the other direction.

This is an instant rematch from Week 5 in Atlanta. The Falcons closed as a 2-point favorite, wound up on the short end of a 23-16 score, and fired head coach Dan Quinn that night. The total closed at 53.5 and with only 39 points on the board, went WAY Under.

Carolina opened at -3 and some early Atlanta money pushed the number down to Carolina -2.5. The O/U total is sitting at 50.5 or 51.0 depending on where you shop.

So, revenge is on the menu, and sitting at the head of the table for the Falcons is new head coach Raheem Morris. Even with that disturbing 23-22 last-second loss to the Lions last week, it seems as if the Falcons are all-in for Morris. They crushed the Vikings in his first game, 40-23, and shoulda beaten Detroit. One thing Atlanta does well is cover on the road. They’ve been BIG money, covering six of the last seven away from the ATL, and Double J — Julio Jones — is back. He was a no-go in the first game, but was a huge weapon for Matt Ryan last week, grabbing 8 balls for 97 yards. He was even better against Minny, snatching another 8 for 137 yards. So, two weeks, 16 catches for 234 yards. You can understand why Matty Ice and the offense is at a WHOLE other level with Jones. Todd Gurley rumbled for 121 yards in the game against the Panthers, and last week, the Saints gashed the Panthers for 138.

Keep an eye out for the return of Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey. Gonna lean on Atlanta, but lighten the play if he’s active.

Thursday

PANTHERS (2.5) Falcons (51), 8:20 p.m.

TV: Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime

Staff picks
Ed Barkowitz
Falcons
Les Bowen
Panthers
Paul Domowitch
Panthers
Marcus Hayes
Panthers (Best Bet)
Jeff McLane
Panthers
EJ Smith
Panthers
Vegas Vic
Falcons

Standings

Entering Week 8/Best bets in parentheses

1. EJ Smith (3-4), 55-46-2, .534

2. Paul Domowitch (5-2), 52-49-2, .515

t3. Les Bowen (4-3), 51-50-2, .505

t3. Marcus Hayes (4-3), 51-50-2, .505

5. Vegas Vic (2-5), 51-50-2, .505

6. Ed Barkowitz (3-4), 48-53-2, .476

7. Jeff McLane (5-2), 45-56-2, .447