Packers-Falcons Duke it Out Sunday in Title Tilt
OUR NFC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW:
PACKERS-FALCONS FIGHT IT OUT
FOR THE RIGHT TO GET TO SB 51
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:
Get the Side & Totals of this Sunday’s NFC and AFC Championship Games when you check with us here on game-day morning at Jim Hurley’s Network.
Cash in with winners on Green Bay at Atlanta and Pittsburgh at New England -- and, of course, make sure you’re all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week either online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
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
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
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
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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