Packers-Falcons Duke it Out Sunday






Is the Georgia Dome gonna close with a bang or a whimper for the hometown Atlanta Falcons?

Well, the albeit brief 25-year run of this building has hosted Falcons’ heartache before – just remember the 2012 NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers – and keep in mind it’s not as if the visiting Green Bay Packers are unfamiliar with the joint.

The Pack’s won a playoff game here (see 2010 season en route to the franchise’s latest Super Bowl win) and played here back on Oct. 30th when the Falcs edged ‘em out 33-32 thanks to QB Matt Ryan’s 11-yard scoring strike to WR Mohamed Sanu with just :31 remaining in that wild/wacky game.

 Give or take at around 6:30 p.m. ET come Sunday we’ll be saying farewell to the dome, hello to the newest NFC champs.

Here’s our Jim Sez preview with a reminder that we’ll getcha Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots next in these web pages:


GREEN BAY (12-6) at ATLANTA (12-5) – 3:05 p.m. ET, Fox

First things first: Much is being made of the fact that the totals price for this NFC title tilt is sitting there at 61 points and may we remind you that the first time these clubs met some 2.5 months ago the over/under number was … 51 points. And it flew over with no problem at all.

Okay, so the folks in Vegas and the all-knowing TV chatterbox guys/gals have stated their case: This is supposed to be a really high-scoring game that’ll decide what NFC team represents the conference in next month’s Super Bowl.

It’s not that we disagree what with not one but two league MVP candidates – see Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (355 yards passing with 2 TDs last weekend in 34-31 win at Dallas) and Atlanta QB Ryan (338 passing yards with 3 scores last Saturday versus Seattle in 36-20 triumph) – on board here but do these type scenarios “always” work out or perhaps might we see a 27-21 type game when all’s said and done?

Consider that the Packers held seven consecutive opponents to a per-game average of 17.9 ppg prior to last Sunday’s wildly entertaining Green Bay win at 5-point favorite Dallas in an NFC Divisional Playoff game; and that the Falcons have held eight of their last nine foes to under 30 points with the lone exception to the rule coming in a Week 17 game in which the Falcons owned a monster lead before allowing New Orleans a major backdoor cover in a 38-31 ATL victory.

In other words, just ‘cause everyone and his brother is calling for a 38-35 type game here, don’t mean it’s gotta happen!

The reality of the situation here is the Falcons – a 5-point favorite at this very moment – have more weapons at Ryan’s disposal although there is some growing concern with the injured foot of WR Julio Jones and do not discount the value of second-year RB Devonta Freeman who snagged four passes worth 80 yards in the 16-point triumph over the Seahawks in last weekend’s playoff game. If Freeman can move the chains as a runner/receiver here, the Packers are in mucho trouble because their short-handed secondary figures to have plenty of problems covering the likes of WRs, Jones, Sanu and speedy Taylor Gabriel (a trio that combined for 14 receptions worth 182 yards and two TDs versus Seattle).

On the flip side, folks are now expecting Green Bay slinger Rodgers to play nearly mistake-free ball – hey, remember the Packers actually did not score a single point on their first five possessions against the New York Giants two weeks ago before exploding in a 38-13 home win/cover – and that may be sheer madness considering pass-rush fiend DE/OLB Vic Beasley will be bearing down at all times but we see the game’s real “X-factor” being what Green Bay’s ground game can do. Against the Cowboys last Sunday, the Pack rushed for 87 yards on 17 carries (that’s 5.1 yards per pop) and anything near that while rushing 25-or-so times will take major heat off Rodgers here.

The Pack believes WR Jordy Nelson (ribs) will be a “go” for this clash – but stay tuned ‘cause he could still be scratched.

Spread Notes – Atlanta is 11-6 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and the Falcons are a composite 11-21 vig-wise as chalk sides while dating back to the start of 2013. Did you know Atlanta’s 1-4-1 spreadwise in playoff games the past nine years? Green Bay, meanwhile, is 11-6-1 against the Las Vegas prices this season and note the Packers have covered four-of-five games this year when in the dog role. One last thing: Green Bay’s 9-3-1 ATS in post-season games since the start of 2010.


Here’s the last three head-to-head meetings between the Packers and the Falcons (note all home teams are in CAPS):


YEAR       WINNER         SPREAD          LOSER             SCORE

2016       ATLANTA       - 3                   Green Bay     33-32

2014       GREEN BAY   - 13.5              Atlanta           43-37

2013       GREEN BAY   - 3.5                Atlanta           22-21


Hmmm, note all three of these recent head-to-head meetings between Green Bay and Atlanta have been won – but not covered – by the betting favorites with the Packers slipping under the FG price earlier this season after the Falcons nabbed road covers at Lambeau Field in both 2013 and ’14. Might that again be the case here come Sunday?


Here’s the team-by-team charts for both the Packers and the Falcons this year (note all home teams are in CAPS below and spread listed is according to the winner):


GREEN BAY (12-6)

WK WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER             SCORE

1      Green Bay             - 3.5                J’VILLE            27-23

2      MINNESOTA         + 2                   Green Bay     17-14

3      GREEN BAY           - 6                   Detroit           34-27

4      BYE

5      GREEN BAY           - 7                   NY Giants      23-16

6      Dallas                     + 4.5               GREEN BAY   30-16

7      GREEN BAY           - 7.5                Chicago          26-10

8      ATLANTA               - 3                   Green Bay     33-32

9      Indianapolis          + 7.5               GREEN BAY   31-26

10   TENNESSEE            + 3                   Green Bay     47-25

11   WASHINGTON      - 3                   Green Bay     42-24

12   Green Bay             + 4                   PHILADEL’A   27-13

13   GREEN BAY           - 7                   Houston         21-13

14   GREEN BAY           + 3                   Seattle            38-10

15   Green Bay             - 4.5                CHICAGO       30-27

16   GREEN BAY           - 6                   Minnesota     38-25

17   Green Bay             - 3.5                DETROIT        31-24

WC  GREEN BAY           - 5.5                NY Giants      38-13

Div  Green Bay             + 5                   DALLAS          34-31


WC = Wild Card

Div = Divisional Playoff



ATLANTA (12-5)

WK WINNER                 SPREAD          LOSER             SCORE

1      Tampa Bay            + 2.5               ATLANTA       31-24

2      Atlanta                   + 4                   OAKLAND      35-28

3      Atlanta                   + 3                   NEW ORL’NS 45-32

4      ATLANTA               + 3                   Carolina         48-33

5      Atlanta                   + 4                   DENVER         23-16

6      SEATTLE                 - 7                   Atlanta           26-24

7      San Diego              + 4.5               ATLANTA (ot) 33-30

8      ATLANTA               - 3                   Green Bay     33-32

9      Atlanta                   - 4.5                TAMPA BAY  43-28

10   PHILADELPHIA     - 1.5                Atlanta           24-15

11   BYE

12   ATLANTA               - 4                   Arizona          38-19

13   Kansas City            + 5                   ATLANTA       29-28

14   Atlanta                   - 4.5                LOS ANGELES 42-14

15   ATLANTA               - 13.5              San Francisco 41-13

16   Atlanta                   - 3                   CAROLINA       33-16

17   ATLANTA               - 7.5                New Orleans    38-32

Div  ATLANTA               - 6.5                Seattle               36-20


Div = Divisional Playoff


NOTE: Catch our AFC Championship Game Preview and team charts in the next Jim Sez column.



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