- Atlanta is a 3.5-point home favorite over the Panthers in Week 1 of the NFL season
- No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young and rookie running back Bijan Robinson will make their highly-anticipated debuts
- Sunday’s game kicks off from Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA at 1 pm ET
The NFC South is once again expected to be one of the worst divisions in all of football. Yet, hopes are high for both the Falcons and Panthers, who finished with matching 7-10 records last season. Carolina traded up for No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young while Atlanta stood pat and selected generational running back prospect Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall.
Which team will get off to a winning start in 2023? Before we check the odds on Sunday’s matchup, here’s where you can find the best Super Bowl betting tips and the top betting sites for NFL football in 2023.
Falcons vs Panthers
|Un 40.0 (-105)
|Ov 40.0 (-115)
Bijan era begins in Atlanta
Atlanta is a 3.5-point home favorite on Sunday afternoon. This could be a make-it-or-break it year for head coach Arthur Smith, who has a 14-20 career record. Last year, the Falcons finished second in both rushing attempts per game (32.9) and rushing yards per game (159.9). They then went ahead and drafted Texas back Bijan Robinson, who won the Doak Walker Award in 2022 as the best running back in college football.
Desmond Ridder should be an upgrade on veteran Marcus Mariota, but accuracy could be an issue for the sophomore pivot. Getting the ball to tight end Kyle Pitts and second-year wideout Drake London is a must if Atlanta is to claim their first NFC South title since 2016.
Bijan Robinson is a GENERATIONAL Talent pic.twitter.com/auaySgEIq6
— Alex Caruso (@AlexCaruso) September 4, 2023
Tough road ahead for Bryce Young?
After throwing to electric talents such as Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Jameson Williams during his career at Alabama, Bryce Young is facing a bare cupboard in Carolina. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner’s best receivers are 33-year-old Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, who’s currently dealing with a hamstring ailment, and second-round pick Jonathan Mingo.
Left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, last year’s No. 6 overall pick, also struggled throughout training camp and the preseason, raising concern about the Panthers’ ability to protect their 5-foot-10, sub-200-pound quarterback.
The Frank Reich factor
Carolina chose to replace Steve Wilks following the 2022 season despite his 6-6 record as interim head coach. The new man in charge is Frank Reich, who was 40-33-1 in four-plus years with Indianapolis. Most concerning about Reich is his 0-5 record in season-opening games.
The Panthers will also likely be without two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Burns, who is sitting out because of a contract dispute. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen is promising an aggressive approach after the Falcons finished second-last with only 21 sacks in 2022.
Quinton Jefferson gets the sack on Bryce Young!
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) August 12, 2023
The Falcons and Panthers have split their season series the past two years. However, throughout his career, Frank Reich has shown no ability to get his club ready for the season. In comparison, Arthur Smith’s team full of bullies know exactly how they need to play to win games.
Expect Atlanta to run the ball down their division rivals’ throats for an easy-cover in Week 1.
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