Green Bay Packers (12-6; 11-6-1 ATS; 12-6 O/U) vs. Atlanta Falcons (12-5; 11-6 ATS; 14-2 O/U)
NFC Championship Game: Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 at 3:00pm EST
Line: Atlanta -4.5
The Green Bay Packers will head to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the NFC Championship game Sunday afternoon from the Georgia Dome. The Packers defeated the Cowboys 34-31 last Sunday, and the Falcons stomped the Seahawks 36-20 last Saturday. The Falcons edged the Packers 33-32 at home in week eight.
This matchup features the top two touchdown leaders at quarterback, as Aaron Rodgers led the NFL with 40 regular season passing touchdowns, and Matt Ryan finished second with 38 touchdowns.
Rodgers, Crosby Dazzle as Packers Take Down Dallas
The Green Bay Packers pulled off a thrilling 34-31 road win over the Cowboys this past Sunday behind two clutch field goals late in the fourth quarter. Green Bay allowed Dallas back into the game after holding a 28-13 lead going into the fourth quarter, however Crosby hit a 56 yard field goal followed by the game-winning 51-yarder as time expired for the win. Aaron Rodgers was outstanding once again, throwing for 356 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The 33-year old quarterback knows how to win football games, accumulating 718 passing yards with a 6:1 TD to INT ratio in this year’s playoffs. Rodgers had no problem with the Falcons defense in week eight, throwing for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook came up huge, making six catches for 104 yards, and has now tallied 152 receiving yards in two playoff games. Jody Nelson, who missed last week’s game against Dallas with broken ribs, is questionable for this contest but chances are he won’t be ready. Nelson led the Packers in receiving this season. The Packers are also without running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, and they have not been running the ball a whole lot, although Ty Montgomery has done a great job in their absence. Green Bay’s offense has been red hot, and scored an average of 27 points per game this regular season, ranking them fourth in the NFL.
The Packers defense had trouble against the Dallas offense, allowing a 28-13 lead slip away before Rodgers and Crosby came through. Dallas recorded 429 total yards and Green Bay will be facing another powerhouse offense in this one. Nick Perry made a sack in the win over Dallas and now has 12 sacks on the season. Green Bay will need Perry, Clay Matthews and their cornerbacks to be at their best in the one. The Packers are allowing an average of 24.2 points per game, placing them 21st in the NFL.
Matt Ryan Comes Through with Another Huge Game
The Atlanta Falcons made it look easy against the Seahawks stifling defense in their big 36-20 NFC Divisional Playoff win last Saturday. The Falcons offense was able to score on three straight possessions which included two touchdowns and a field goal. Matt Ryan was outstanding, throwing for 338 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The 31-year old quarterback has now gone five consecutive games without throwing an interception, and has now tallied 41 touchdowns with only seven interceptions in 17 games this season. Ryan shined in the Falcons 33-32 win over the Packers in week eight, throwing for 288 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Julio Jones led all receivers with six catches for a total of 67 yards and a touchdown last week, and Jones has a good chance of finding open field against the Packers susceptible secondary this week. However, Jones only made three catches for 29 yards against Green Bay earlier this season, and seemed t0 re-aggravate his toe last week but he will definitely suit up and play. Watch for running back Devonta Freeman in this contest as he has been a threat on the ground and in the air. Freeman rushed for 45 yards and notched 80 receiving yards against Seattle last week, and has now tallied 161 receiving yards over his last two games. Atlanta’s powerful offense has shown no signs of slowing down, and averaged 33.8 points per game in the regular season, ranking them first in the NFL.
The Atlanta defense was very impressive last week, holding the Seahawks to only 309 yards and were able to make two interceptions. Deion Jones made his fourth interception of the year, and the 22-year old linebacker is starting to develop into an impact player. The Falcons will give up yards in the air and are allowing an average of 25.4 points per game, ranking them 27th overall.
The Green Bay Packers are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Atlanta.
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road playoff games.
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record.
- road team is 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings between Atlanta and Green Bay.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 playoff games.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in January.
I am taking the points with Green Bay in this one. Similar to last week, I can’t go against Aaron Rodgers in a playoff game, especially against this Falcons defense. Rodgers was able to throw four touchdowns against Atlanta in week eight, and Atlanta allowed an average of 266.7 passing yards per game in the regular season ranking them down at 28th in the NFL, so I expect Rodgers to come through with another big game. Also, although Green Bay will give up points, I like their defense better than Atlanta’s because they had success stopping the run this season and they have more playoff experience with the likes of Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry. Take the points with the Packers in this one.
Pick: Green Bay Packers +4.5
The Packers and Falcons both put up big numbers on offense last week against two strong defensive opponents. Neither team is very strong defensively so I expect this to be a shootout similar to the Packers/Cowboys game, plus the over is 6-0 in the Packers last six games. Both teams surrender a ton of passing yards and I think this total number is very reasonable considering these potent offensive units. The over is 9-0 in the Falcons last nine home games and that trend should continue in this one.