This Week 8 game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers has major playoff implications in 2022. Yes, that is a real sentence that someone wrote, believe it or not, and it’s time to make some Week 8 predictions for this Falcons game against the Panthers.

With the New Orleans Saints performing below expectations and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers absolutely imploding, Sunday’s showdown between the Falcons and Panthers in Atlanta suddenly has big stakes. Following Tampa’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, the winner of this game will take the NFC South lead. Both of these teams were popular picks for the worst team in the league before the season, but now they can take control of their division. What a world!

Atlanta is coming off a disappointing 35-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Falcons’ defense was no match for Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ passing game, and the Falcons failed to cover the spread for the first time this season. Meanwhile, Carolina is coming off a stunning 21-3 blowout over the Buccaneers.

A game no one had on their radar now has big implications. Without further ado, let’s go over some bold predictions for the Falcons in Sunday’s Week 8 showdown with the Panthers.

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3. The Falcons hold the Panthers under 200 yards of offense

Despite Atlanta performing above expectations this year, the defense has been a clear weak spot. The Falcons currently have the third-worst total defense in the league and are one of three teams allowing over 400 yards per game. They have actually been solid against the run, ranking sixth in rushing defense, but are dead last against the pass.

Fortunately for Atlanta fans, going against Carolina’s anemic offense may be just the cure for a struggling defense. The Panthers sit near the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive stat, most notably ranking dead last in total offense. They also rank 22nd in rushing, 28th in passing, and 27th in scoring offense.

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If Atlanta’s defense is going to have a get-right game, this is it. Yes, the Panthers had a strong offensive game against the Buccaneers previously, but that game was largely an outlier in their season. Expect the Falcons’ defense to put on its best performance of the season on Sunday.

2. Kyle Pitts goes for 100 yards and a touchdown

Pitts has had a pretty disappointing second season in 2022. The former Florida tight end has just 16 catches for 178 yards and a single touchdown in six games this season.That is well below his pace last season, when he had over 1,000 yards.

Pitts is too talented to stay down for long. He’s due for a big game soon, and going against Carolina’s 18th-ranked pass defense could be the spark he needs. He could be in for his first 100-yard game of the season and may find the end zone as well.

1. Falcons win by 10 or more points

These two teams may have similar records, but Atlanta has been the much better team this season. The Falcons have stuck around in almost every game this season, while the Panthers have suffered multiple blowout losses. Atlanta also has generally more impressive stats, especially on offense.

The four-point spread, according to FanDuel, seems reasonable enough on paper but could also be a lot higher. The fact that this game takes place in Atlanta also boosts the odds in the Falcons’ favor. Carolina may be riding high after an upset win, but Atlanta will provide a reality check when the Falcons walk away with a double-digit win.