The last time the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons met, they played what might be the game of the year in the NFL so far.
Nobody was watching, but the Panthers and Falcons played a thriller in Week 8. The Falcons scored a go-ahead touchdown just before the two-minute warning. D.J. Moore caught a long desperation heave for a touchdown right before the end of regulation, then took his helmet off and the Panthers missed the extra point after Moore's instantly infamous penalty. The Falcons went on to win 37-34 in overtime. There were 13 scoring plays and only once did a team score twice in a row. It was a really fun game.
On paper, Thursday night's Falcons-Panthers rematch isn't good. But you never know.
The Falcons are a 2.5-point road favorite at the Panthers at BetMGM. Part of that is what happened in Carolina's one game since losing in overtime to the Falcons.
The Panthers were as bad as an NFL team could be last week. They trailed the Cincinnati Bengals 35-0 at halftime. Quarterback PJ Walker had nine yards and a 0.0 rating at halftime. It was an absolute embarrassment.
The Panthers haven't been an embarrassment since Steve Wilks took over as interim coach. They're 1-3, but that includes a nice win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that close loss to the Falcons. Walker will be back at quarterback for Carolina, and he has either been solid or wholly awful. No in between.
The Falcons have been competitive in most games this season. They're 6-3 against the spread. I don't know if last week was a sign that the Panthers have exhausted the energy they had for their new coach, but it could be. It's never good to lean on recency bias, but it's hard to ignore how awful they were last week. The Falcons beat them in the first meeting two weeks ago. I anticipate a repeat of that.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
College football has 2 games
The NFL matchup isn't great, but the college football schedule isn't appealing either. There are two games and neither one is a marquee matchup. Memphis is a 6.5-point favorite against Tulsa and Louisiana is a 3.5-point favorite over Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern, at 5-4, is the only team among those four with a winning record.
College basketball has a few top 25 teams in action
There are some college basketball games, but there still hasn't been a good matchup. There are five top-25 teams in action but none are expected to be challenged. Perhaps the best game among the top teams is Creighton against North Dakota. Creighton is a 29.5-point favorite but didn't look good in its opener against St. Thomas on Monday. A blowout from the Bluejays would be a good step.
NBA has 4 games
It's a relatively quiet night in the NBA after a busy Monday and Wednesday. There are four games, and the best one is the Philadelphia 76ers at the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are on a back-to-back after losing to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, so that could affect them against a more rested 76ers team. Atlanta is a 1.5-point favorite.
A few good NHL games
There's a couple fun matchups in the NHL. The Calgary Flames are at the Boston Bruins (-175), and the Edmonton Oilers are at the Carolina Hurricanes (-150). Those four are among the more interesting teams in the NHL.
What's the best bet?
The Falcons are a play at less than a field goal. I'll also go against Atlanta in another game and take the 76ers over the Hawks, after the Hawks played on Wednesday night.