The Carolina Panthers are coming off only their second win of the season, and they will look to get back-to-back wins when they face the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia during Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season. A win here can potentially push the Panthers up to solo first place in the NFC South. Here are our Carolina Panthers Week 8 predictions as they take on the Falcons.
Can the Panthers go 2-0 after losing Christian McCaffrey? That would be incredibly ironic, yes? Even though the Panthers stunned the world last week with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was, of course, an outlier performance. Expectations have to be tempered since the Buccaneers have been awful in recent weeks, and the Panthers were lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
At the same time, while the Falcons haven’t been flawless this season, they have won seven of the past nine encounters in this rivalry. Atlanta is also tied for the seventh-best scoring offense at home this season (25.7), while Carolina has the NFL’s third-worst road offensive scoring average (13.0).
With all these in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Carolina Panthers in their Week 8 game against the Falcons.
*Watch NFL games LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
4. DJ Moore puts up 70+ air yards
Atlanta’s finest defensive player, AJ Terrell, will miss the game on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. This is great news for Carolina’s top receiver, DJ Moore.
Remember that Moore had a season-high 69 yards and a critical TD last week in a connection with quarterback PJ Walker. He was Walker’s favorite target against the Buccaneers and will most likely be again here. Carolina will seek to exploit a good matchup against a Falcons team lacking depth at cornerback.
Moore has been averaging just 39 air yards per game this season, but we have him doubling that in Week 8.
3. D’Onta Foreman rules the ground with Chuba Hubbard out
Carolina RB Chuba Hubbard is not expected to see action here after he was unable to train at all this week. The second-year player fell down late in the team’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the injury seemed to be minor. He is expected to miss at least one game.
This is a significant setback for the Panthers since the Oklahoma State product split carries with RB1 D’Onta Foreman in Week 7. Hubbard carried for 63 yards and one touchdown on nine runs, while also gaining 10 yards on two catches. He had 23 offensive snaps after taking only a total of 30 in the first six weeks.
GO GET D’ONTA FOREMAN 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/n5yIHsARCo
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 21, 2022
With Hubbard out, Foreman will certainly be the Panthers’ main rushing workhorse in Week 8. He will get an incredible opportunity to shine against a Falcons side that has the NFL’s seventh-worst run defense DVOA rating. Recall that the 26-year-old gained 145 yards on 17 touches against the Buccaneers. This included a stunning breakaway 60-yard run in the fourth quarter to help seal the win. Foreman is a big, robust back who can punish opponents who can really push deep into the secondary when he’s racing downhill. He should rule the ground game and record another triple-digit game for the Panthers.
2. PJ Walker goes over 200+ yards and one touchdown
27-year-old QB PJ Walker appeared to be the odd man out entering the season. Not too long ago, the Panthers were set on carrying three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Matt Corral. Walker would have been relegated to the practice squad or maybe even released.
However, Lady Luck smiled at Walker and granted him a tremendous opportunity. With Corral and Darnold both suffering long-term injuries throughout the preseason, he was named Mayfield’s backup in Week 1. Then, after Mayfield went down with a high-ankle sprain of his own, Walker has picked up the last two starts under center. This setup was unthinkable only a few months ago.
To his credit, Walker has made the most of these chances. Last week, he directed the Panthers’ most complete offensive effort of the season in a startling upset victory over the Buccaneers. Think about that — Walker just defeated Tom Brady. And now that he’s the veritable starter, the question is can he add more chapters to his incredible story on Sunday?
Walker threw for 177 yards on 22 attempts against the Buccaneers last week. Now, he will face the league’s weakest pass defense. Take note that Atlanta allows 306.6 yards per game via the air, which is about 30 yards more than the next closest club.
Oh, and as we already mentioned, the league’s worst pass defense will be without its best cornerback in AJ Terrell as well as safety Jaylinn Hawkins. This is another instance of fortune favoring Walker & Co. We expect him to get over 200 yards here without much trouble sprinkled with at least one touchdown.
1. Panthers play hard but get another L on the road
Just one week ago, the 1-5 Panthers traded two of their top offensive weapons to the defending division champs, putting them in a presumptive death sentence. Things have dramatically changed, though.
Keep in mind that Tampa Bay lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. That means Carolina is now in a position to grab first place with a win on Sunday. With wins against the Falcons, Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints, a win in Week 8 would give the Panthers a 3-5 record and a tiebreaking 3-0 divisional record. How’s that for mind-blowing, eh?
On the flip side, chances are the Panthers won’t play as well as they did in Week 7. Objectively speaking, they have just two potent offensive weapons in Moore and Foreman. Keep in mind that Moore has been inconsistent all season. Meanwhile, even if Foreman impressed last week, we’re not sure he can carry the team on his own. This is especially with backup RB Chuba Hubbard already ruled out. Walker will likely have a good game. However, the Panthers defense may not be strong enough to hold off the Falcons here.
Also, consider that the Panthers are 1-3 in their previous four games and 0-2 on the road. It’s really difficult to completely trust them. This game will likely be an easy W for the Falcons.