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Green Bay Packers Atlanta Falcons Spread and Early Lines

With all due respect to the upstart Seahawks and the surprising Bears, the case can easily be made that this NFC playoff matchup pits the top two football teams in the conference against each other, with the winner likely to be considered the favorite to earn a berth in the Super Bowl. This should be one of the best games of the entire year, so let’s take a look at how the Falcons and Packers arrived at this point.

Spread and Betting Line Comparison Chart:

Betting Site
Spread
Over/Under Line
Visit Site
BetED.com
Falcons -2.5 (-105)
45.5
Sportsbook.com
Falcons -2.5 (-110)
45
Bodog.com
Falcons -3 (+110)
45.5u

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After just sneaking into the playoffs, Green Bay proved that all the pre-season talk about the Packers being a legitimate Super Bowl threat was more than just hype with a hard-fought win against Philly in the finale of Wildcard weekend. Almost as importantly, Aaron Rodgers was finally able to dismiss the critics who said he was not a clutch quarterback, winning his first playoff game. Hopefully now the Brett Favre comparisons can stop, as Rodgers has proven that he deserves to be looked at based on his own merit, and not on a certain quarterback of Packers’ lore. One of the keys to Green Bay’s win last week was the establishment of a run game to complement Rodgers’ high powered arm. However, it wasn’t Brandon Jackson or even big fullback John Kuhn that led the way, but rather little used rookie James Starks. In the regular season, Starks carried the ball a total of 29 times for 101 yards, so his explosion for 123 rushing yards on 23 carries on Sunday was a surprise to say the least. Starks’ ability to find the open seams and follow his blocks gave Rodgers more time and forced the Eagles to respect the run more than they would have liked, giving Rodgers more one-on-one matchups to exploit downfield. For the Packers to continue their foray deep into the postseason, they will need to continue to present this more balanced offensive approach. Of course, the brunt of the load will still be carried by Rodgers. Rodgers was sharp and effective on Sunday, out-dueling Michael Vick. Rodgers finished the game with only 180 passing yards, but threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. His ability to control the game and not give up too many turnovers is what makes him an elite quarterback, and Rodgers should be able to exploit an average Atlanta secondary. Making his job easier of course is a bevy of talented receivers, first and foremost Greg Jennings, who will be looking to make up for his extremely quiet day against Philly, where he was held to only one catch for 8 yards. Part of Rodgers’ success is finding the open man even when Jennings isn’t open, as is evidenced by the fact that nine different players caught balls from Rodgers on Sunday. Leading the way was veteran stalwart Donald Driver with 5 catches for 56 yards. The Packers also had a strong game from its defense, who were able to contain Michael Vick to a reasonable extent, eventually sealing the game when Tramon Williams intercepted a pass in the endzone. Another strong effort from the defense may be the difference maker against another strong offense in Atlanta.

The Falcons have had a nice break thanks to a first-round bye, and should send to the field a relatively healthy and well rested squad. Atlanta have looked in control all season, seemingly coasting to an NFC leading 13-3 record. Their 3 losses came to other teams that made the playoffs, but they also had some impressive wins against quality opponents that prove they are deserving of the number one seed. They have been the kings of consistency all year, and are rolling along, having finished the season winning 9 of their final 10 games. A big part of their success has come from their dominance at home, where they have a 7-1 record. Nobody knows the importance of home field advantage better than Matt Ryan. Ryan, although competent on the road, is an absolute beast in Atlanta. During his 3 year career, Ryan has posted a 96.5 QB rating at home, throwing for 32 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions. More astounding is Matt Ryan’s home record: 20-2. Whatever the reason is for his success at home, the important thing for Falcons fans is the fact that this game will be played in the Georgia Dome. Assisting Ryan is wideout Roddy White, who has just put the finishing touches on a fantastic regular season that saw him establish a new franchise record for the most catches in a single season with 115. He also set the franchise mark for receiving yards in a season with 1389. White topped the 100 yards receiving mark 5 times this year, including one game where he amazingly totaled 201 yards. White isn’t the only big name receiver the Falcons have though. Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez may not be as flashy as he once was, but he still puts up some impressive numbers, as he had 70 catches this year and 6 touchdowns. The final major piece of the Falcons’ offense is Michael Turner, who had an exceptional season in his own right. Turner rushed for 12 touchdowns, had 1371 rushing yards, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. His 1371 rushing yards led the NFC — not bad for a guy coming off a season where he had to deal with a high ankle sprain that severely limited his playing time and effectiveness. Atlanta will need all of these cogs in their offensive machine working together in order to keep pace with a very dangerous Green Bay team.

This game will be a rematch from week 12, when the Packers also visited the Georgia Dome. That contest saw the Falcons eke out a 20-17 victory thanks to a 47 yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 9 seconds left on the clock. This should tell you how competitive one can expect this game to be, as both teams are highly talented and appear quite evenly matched. Don’t let the seeding of the two teams fool you; even though the Falcons are seeded first and the Packers sixth, these are arguably the two most complete teams in the NFC, and the winner of this game should be considered as a strong favorite to represent their conference in the big dance.

Packers vs Falcons Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Green Bay Packers +2
@ Atlanta Falcons -2

Game Total:

Over (-110)
45.5
Under (-110)

Check out our Betting Odds Explained article if you don’t understand how to read sports betting odds.

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The spread shows the respect that the oddsmakers have for both teams. The two point edge the Falcons have likely represents the fact that they have home field advantage rather than a significantly stronger team. The spread also seems to recognize that in the last three weeks the Packers have played three extremely solid games against very tough opponents, and have won all three games, while the Falcons have not played a tough game for several weeks, having last week off and playing against the basement dwelling Panthers the week before. Of course, arguments can be made for both sides as to who this disparity in recent tough games favors, as some say the rest will give the Falcons a leg up, while others may suggest that the Packers are in the right mindset at the moment. Regardless of which way you lean, one thing not to lose sight of is the fact that this game will be played at the Georgia Dome. Green Bay is actually under .500 on the road this season, although not all of those losses came with Rodgers as the quarterback. Still, Atlanta is nearly unbeatable at home, so one must consider this when placing a bet. If this line is to move before the weekend, look for it to add another half point to point in favor of Atlanta. A pretty standard line for a playoff game is the home team being between a 2.5 and 3 point favorite, so it would not be a complete shock to see the Falcons have another .5 added in their favor. This means that if you plan to bet on Atlanta, you may be better off doing so sooner rather than later, whereas it may be more advantageous to wait until closer to game day if you will be betting on Green Bay. As for the game total, it should stick around 45.5, although some lines already have it dropping to 45, so it is possible this trend may percolate through more betting platforms. It is an interesting number, as on the face it seems high given Green Bay’s allowance of only 15 points per game to opponents. However, both of these teams possess high powered offenses, so a mid 40s number does seem about right, and almost certainly won’t fluctuate more than .5 in either direction barring a critical late week injury.

While actual predictions will only be offered later in the week, here are a couple of trends to consider as you research for your picks: Green Bay is 4-1 ATS as an underdog of a field goal or less, and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 overall. However, in games following a week when they have allowed over 250 passing yards they are only 3-7 ATS. Meanwhile, Atlanta is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 as a favorite, and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 at home. Another interesting note is that the Packers are 1-5 ATS in the last 6 meetings between these two teams, but the road team is 5-1 ATS in those 6 games, as is the underdog, so something has to give here. As for the game total, the Under is 8-1 in Green Bay’s last 9 on the road, and 5-2 when Atlanta is favored by a field goal or less. Conversely, the Over is 6-0 the last 6 times Atlanta has played on a Saturday, and is 6-2 when Atlanta faces a team with a winning record.

Despite all the Jets-Patriots talk, this is the game that I’m most excited about this weekend. It has two excellent, young quarterbacks, explosive offenses, and several impact players who have the ability to be the difference in the game. You can bet that the winner of the Seattle-Chicago game will be hoping these two teams knock the stuffing out of each other this week, which, given the importance of the game and intensity of the two teams, is a distinct possibility.

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