It all comes down to Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons host the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 of the 2017 NFL Season. The Falcons have struggled to find consistency all season, but can still make the playoffs with one more win.
All they have to do is knock off the Panthers, a team they lost to earlier this season. They did have a shot in that one, and things may have turned out different if receiver Julio Jones hauled in the pass he inexplicably dropped. Hopefully for the Dirty Birds, this game will bring better luck.
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What time is kick off?
The game kicks off at 9.25pm at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Georgia is five hours behind British time, meaning a 4.25pm start for the locals.
What TV channel can I watch it on?
Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event will both broadcast the showdown in Atlanta.
NFL coverage on Sunday begins on Sky Sports Action at 5.30pm with New England Patriots against New York Jets with this game following straight after.
Sunday 6pm and 9pm games shown LIVE on Sky are not available to watch on NFL Game Pass, however Sky Sports subscribers can stream it on Sky Go.
The Carolina Panthers can win the NFC South, but they’re already guaranteed a berth in the NFL playoffs. The defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons can punch their ticket with a win. The division rivals meet Sunday in a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff.
The Falcons are four-point home favorites, up a full point from where the line opened. The over-under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 45.5, down 1.5 from the opener.
Before you make any bets on Panthers-Falcons, you need to see what SportsLine stat geek R.J. White has to say.
Last Sunday, White told SportsLine readers to back the Saints as 5.5-point favorites against the Falcons in another huge NFC South matchup. The result: New Orleans cruised by 10, easily covering the spread.
Amazingly, that cash improved White to 15-4 in his past 19 against-the-spread picks involving the Falcons. Anyone who has followed his advice is having a very happy holiday season.
Now, White has evaluated every matchup, every injury and every trend and locked in another strong point-spread pick for Panthers-Falcons. You can see it over at SportsLine.
White knows the Falcons have struggled mightily this season under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. They’re 9-6, but have only topped 30 points four times. The Seahawks, Ravens and Cowboys are all averaging more points than Atlanta (22.1).
Wide receiver Julio Jones has just four 100-yard games and three touchdowns after he hit the century mark seven times last season and scored six times.
Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton and Derek Carr all have more touchdown passes than Matt Ryan (19).
But just because the Falcons have been inconsistent doesn’t mean they can’t cover, especially at home in a critical game.
The Falcons will be highly motivated. If they lose, they would need the Seahawks to lose to the Cardinals to make the postseason. A chance for redemption after their fourth-quarter Super Bowl collapse should energize the Dirty Birds.
And the last time the Panthers and Falcons met, the Panthers won by three (20-17), but that game was in Carolina.
The Panthers rushed for over 200 yards in that game, with quarterback Cam Newton leading the way with 86. Expect Falcons coach Dan Quinn to make the necessarily adjustments on Sunday.
White is leaning under, but knows there’s a critical stat no one is thinking about that ultimately determines the point-spread winner for Panthers-Falcons.
What are the play-off implications?
For Atlanta it’s very simple – they must win to be sure of their place in the play-offs as the No 6 seed.
Should they lose, they must hope Seattle lose to Arizona or the Seahawks will clinch the final wild-card spot.
Carolina are already assured of their post-season berth but are hoping to win the division.
The Panthers have the same 11-4 record as the NFC South leaders New Orleans but the Saints own the tie-breaker.
Details for Sunday’s game are below:
Date: Sunday, Dec. 31
Start time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: Atlanta, GA
Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Radio: 92.9 The Game
It’s the final home game of the season, but let’s hope it isn’t the final game. The Falcons need all their fans to be on deck for this one as they look to secure their spot in the 2017 NFL Playoffs.