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Whether or not the Panthers get back McCaffery in Week 8 shouldn’t matter against these shaky Falcons, though with the type of talent on Atlanta’s roster still, it would be a mistake to underestimate them.
Panthers -3 (-110)
|Falcons vs Panthers Information|
|What||Atlanta Falcons vs Carolina Panthers|
|Where||Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC|
|When||TNF, Thursday, October 29, 2020; 8:20 PM ET|
|How to watch||FOX / NFLN|
Could be a massive garage sale in Atlanta as the Falcons front office looks to unload whatever players a one-win team doesn’t need anymore, their new interim head coach Raheem Morris looking for his second victory as the new man in charge.
There is certainly no guarantee of RB Christian McCaffery coming back in time to play in this one, but it is surely a good sign that the dual-threat playmaker was finally designated to return from injured reserve, and the team could certainly use his ability to make plays and score touchdowns as soon as possible.
The two NFC South rivals have met each other 51 times in the past, with the Carolina Panthers winning 19 of those games and the Atlanta Falcons winning 32 of them.
It was reported earlier in the week that, contrary to whispers from unknown sources, QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones will not be traded from the Falcons before the NFL trade deadline happens on November 3.
Good news for fans, but that doesn’t leave the other players on the roster safe from a possible trade, something that teams who struggle early on tend to do in order to free up cap space and salary in order to get set for whatever team revamp they may have in store.
Players like RB Brian Hill and defensive lineman Deadrin Senat and Tyeler Davison could all find themselves on a different roster by next week, but there is nothing certain in professional football, so it’s just a wait and see the situation for everyone involved until the deadline.
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It has been a tough go of it for the Panthers since Week 2 when their star dual-threat RB Christian McCaffery suffered a high ankle sprain in the team’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, forcing the playmaker onto the injured reserve list ever since.
The Panthers have now designated McCaffery to return from injured reserve, which means that as soon as he is physically good to go, but he would have to most likely go through a full team practice if he is to have any chance to play in this Thursday Night Football matchup with the Falcons.
Last season, McCaffery led the league in total touches (403), yards from scrimmage (2,392) and total touchdowns (19), a production that is obviously missed, and a huge factor in why this talented team holding a 3–4 record at this point in the season.
Currently, Falcons’ RB Todd Gurley leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 7, not surprising when you consider what a talent he is, though Gurley struggled a bit last season while posting only his second sub-1,000 rushing yards season since he joined the league in 2015.
Gurley averages 4 yards per carry right now, and his 122 rushes for 485 yards is a key to the Falcons offense, plus he adds soft hands to the mix, so far catching 13 balls for 77 yards but no touchdowns yet on the season.
For the Falcons to shock the Panthers into losing this one, it would be key for Gurley to show up and put some numbers on the board, and with his ability to both run and catch the ball out of the backfield, he becomes a player to watch in this one.
It has been up to Panthers’ RB Mike Davis to carry the ball in the absence of the team’s starting running back, Christian McCaffery, and Davis has done a decent job of it up to this point, averaging 4 yards a carry in 2020.
So far on the year, Davis has 71 rushes for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 37 catches for another 233 yards and 2 more touchdowns – not McCaffery level production but impressive all on its own.
It might not make sense to play McCaffery much even if he is available, since why would you force his return from injury against a team the Panthers could most likely still beat without him, but that will be a game-time decision that will be important to check before placing any major bets on this one.
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