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Falcons vs. Panthers props: Four player predictions for TNF

Bank on Atlanta TE Kyle Pitts to once again make the most of his targets against Carolina

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts runs after a reception against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 30. Pitts tied his season high with five catches against the Panthers, whom Pitts and the Falcons face on Thursday Night Football. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts runs after a reception against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 30. Pitts tied his season high with five catches against the Panthers, whom Pitts and the Falcons face on Thursday Night Football. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Read moreKevin C. Cox / Getty Images

If you have scanned the Falcons vs. Panthers props options ahead of the Week 10 Thursday Night Football game, the first thing you likely noticed was a dearth of sexy names.

Not long ago, this NFC South rivalry featured marquee attractions such as Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Julio Jones and Christian McCaffrey. Now? It’s a steady dose of Marcus Mariota, Tyler Allgeier and Drake London for Atlanta, and P.J. Walker, D’Onta Foreman and D.J. Moore for Carolina.

In other words, it’s safe to assume that few (if any) Week 10 fantasy football matchups will be decided by the players on the field Thursday in Carolina. However, those players absolutely could have an impact on the wallet of anyone who chooses to dabble in the Falcons vs. Panthers props market. And count us among the dabblers.

Here are our top four Thursday Night Football player prop predictions.

Note: Odds updated as of 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 10.

Falcons vs. Panthers prop: Kyle Pitts total receptions

  1. Odds: 3.5 receptions, Over -106/Under -129 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

  2. Prediction: Over

Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, pundits were using words like “generational talent” and “can’t-miss star” to describe Pitts.

Some even went so far invoke the names of Hall of Fame tight ends Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow and Shannon Sharpe — and future Hall of Famers such as Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates — when discussing Pitts.

Whether those lofty expectations were too much for Pitts to shoulder, he’s a late bloomer, or he simply was wildly overrated, this much isn’t disputable: The former University of Florida standout has been a disappointment for the Falcons, especially in his sophomore season.

After catching 68 balls for 1,026 yards as a rookie, Pitts has just 23 receptions for 285 yards in eight games this year. Even worse, he has just three touchdowns — in his career.

So why do we like Pitts to show up tonight in Carolina, at least from a pass-catching standpoint? Because two weeks ago at home, he had his most productive game of the campaign against these Panthers.

The 6-foot-6, 246-pounder had five receptions (on a season-high nine targets) for 80 yards and a TD. Also, when he visited Carolina as a rookie in Week 13 last season, Pitts caught five of six targets.

Pitts did flatline last week against the Chargers (two receptions for 27 yards). But at least Mariota looked his way seven times. In fact, Pitts has been targeted 21 times in the last three games.

We think that trend continues Thursday, especially with wet conditions expected to persist throughout the game. (Such conditions usually result in short, safe throws — particularly from a limited quarterback like Mariota.)

Falcons vs. Panthers prop: P.J. Walker total passing yards

  1. Odds: 170.5, Over -115/Under -115 (at BetMGM)

  2. Prediction: Under

Walker threw for a career-high (by a mile) 317 yards 10 days ago in Atlanta. But as we noted in our Falcons vs. Panthers betting preview, 62 of those yards came on a late-game Hail Mary pass that never should’ve been completed.

That pass capped a wild fourth quarter in which both Mariota and Walker went up and down the field like an Elway-Marino clash from 1985. Newsflash: Walker isn’t Elway or Marino (nor, for that matter, is Mariota).

We also mentioned in our preview that Atlanta’s secondary is atrocious. We’re talking 300 passing yards allowed per game atrocious — 23 more than any other team.

The question is, can a quarterback with Walker’s limited skills (and limited surrounding talent) pick apart the Falcons’ awful defensive backs again? We’re betting against it.

For one thing, Walker crashed back to earth big time in last week’s ugly 42-21 loss at Cincinnati. He went 3-for-10 for 9 yards, tossed two interceptions and was benched in the second half in favor of Baker Mayfield.

You have to think interim Carolina coach Steve Wilks will have another short leash on Walker this week, especially after Mayfield performed well in mop-up duty against the Bengals.

Also, aside from the big game at Atlanta in Week 8, Walker has thrown for more than 170 yards just twice in 13 career games/five starts (177 vs. Tampa Bay in Week 7; and 258 vs. Detroit last November).

Add in potentially slick weather, and we expect Walker to fall well short of this Falcons vs. Panthers props projection.

Falcons vs. Panthers prop: Cordarrelle Patterson total rushing yards

  1. Odds: 54.5 yards, Over -119/Under -115 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

  2. Prediction: Under

Patterson is tied with Foreman for the highest rushing prop at Caesars Sportsbook. And we’re not sure why.

The Falcons’ veteran wide receiver-turned-tailback returned to the field against the Chargers on Sunday after a five-game injury absence and had 13 carries for just 44 yards. And Los Angeles enters Week 11 with the fourth-worst rushing defense in the NFL (145.5 yards per game allowed).

True, the Panthers’ run D has been almost as bad (139.3 ypg). That includes surrendering 167 yards (4.5 per carry) to the Falcons two weeks ago.

However, that damage was spread among three players in running backs Caleb Huntley (91 yards) and Allegier (39), as well as Mariota (43).

Patterson has had two monster rushing games this season (120 against New Orleans; 141 against Seattle) offset by three duds against the Rams (41 yards), Browns (38) and Chargers.

Also, since arriving in Atlanta prior to the start of last season, Patterson has finished with 55-plus rushing yards just six times in 21 games. Yes, he did land on 54 twice, but we still think this number is too high.

Look for the Falcons to continue their rushing-by-committee approach, and play this prop Under at Caesars Sportsbook.

Falcons vs. Panthers prop: Shaq Thompson total tackles

  1. Odds: 8.5, Over +110/Under -145 (at BetMGM)

  2. Prediction: Over

We’ve pretty much established that we expect a lot more running than passing in this Thursday Night Football contest. And with more running comes more opportunities for tackles by the front seven.

As such, we like Thompson to make his presence felt in this one. The Panthers’ veteran linebacker has a team-high 69 total tackles, which is tied for 16th in the NFL.

Thompson has particularly been a one-man wrecking crew the last two weeks, registering 10 tackles last week in Cincinnati after picking up a season-best 13 (including eight solo) against Atlanta on Oct. 30.

Thompson has now recorded double-digit tackles against the Falcons in three straight meetings and five of the last six. Average total tackles in those half-dozen games against Atlanta: 10.

This prop number seems low, and the fact there’s plus-money to the Over makes it more enticing.

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