Carolina Panthers Week 16 prediction, what to watch and how
Carolina Panthers Week 16 preview and prediction vs. Atlanta Falcons.
The Carolina Panthers (6-8) aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs but with only two games remaining they need a ton of help. Wins against the Falcons and Saints are a must, coupled with consecutive losses for Minnesota, Washington and a Houston victory over Philadelphia.
A lot to ask for considering Carolina has finally elected to shut down quarterback Cam Newton for the remainder of the season. Backup Taylor Heinicke is expected to get his first NFL start against the divisional rival Falcons on Sunday.
Atlanta, no stranger to injuries themselves, lost five consecutive games until a win over Arizona last week. At 5-9, if the Panthers defense can duplicate their performance from a week ago, Carolina should have an opportunity to break their own losing streak with a victory.
2018 SEASON: CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-8) vs. ATLANTA FALCONS (5-9)
KICKOFF: Sunday, December 23 at 1:00 PM ET
TV: FOX Broadcast Coverage Map
ONLINE: FuboTV Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!
LOCATION: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
WEATHER: 58 degrees, 61% humidity, 7mph SW wind, 10% precipitation
LAST MEETING: 31-24, FALCONS – September 16, 2018 (Week 2)
WHAT TO WATCH:
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Ron Rivera faced a difficult decision in determining what to do with Newton. It was obvious, the franchise quarterback is struggling to make throws down the field, hampered by a sore shoulder, but what happens if Heinicke takes over and the offense clicks again?
Rivera will undoubtedly face scrutiny for not making the move earlier, but no one can question that Newton undoubtedly gives the Panthers their best opportunity at a win – even if injured.
However, at this point his future health and that of the franchise, rides on the right shoulder of Newton and Carolina cannot risk any further damage with little to play for left in 2018. The best decision has been made and fortunately, there are plenty of other developing weapons on offense to get the job done over the Falcons – if the defense limits Matt Ryan, just as they did Drew Brees last week.
A big if, but the defense has played better since Rivera assumed responsibility for the play calling. A continued ability to generate pressure matched with an offense not limited in its ability to extend the field puts Carolina back in the win column this week.
PREDICTION: Carolina Panthers – 24, Atlanta Falcons – 21