A win here could be the deciding factor in who gets the NFC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Two of the hottest teams in the league are meeting with both quarterbacks playing exceptionally well. The (7-3) Green Bay Packers will seek their fifth straight win against the (8-2) Atlanta Falcons who also will be vying for their fifth in a row, kickoff slated for 1PM EST.
The Packers have been a very good road team under head coach Mike McCarthy, and have beaten the Eagles, Jets and Vikings on the road this season — very difficult venues. The Green Bay Packers have 29 sacks this season, tied for fourth-most in the NFL, and are doing so despite sending four or fewer rushers on 68.9 percent of passing plays this season. Obviously, the Packers will have huge task ahead for their defense on Sunday. But I think the Green Bay defense is up for the challenge. The Packers lead the NFL in only allowing 14.6 points a game (along with the Bears) and have only allowed 10 points in their last three games. Green Bay’s defense also is tied for third in sacks (29), tied for second in interceptions (15) and is No. 2 in opponents’ quarterback rating (66.5). OLB Clay Matthews leads the NFL with 11.5 sacks and the pressure that he and others will exert against Ryan will be key. Matthews has been a big play machine and most experts feel that he in the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010. Cullen Jenkins also has 4 sacks and now has the ability to play without a club on his hand, like he had to most of the year due to a broken left hand. The defense as a whole has been very solid. NT B.J. Raji is living up to the potential as a top 10 pick in the NFL draft. Raji is having a Pro Bowl type season. DE Ryan Pickett appears to be almost back from the ankle injury that has plagued him for several weeks. Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk have been more than solid at ILB. Rookie OLB Frank Zombo is doing a nice job as well, as he has been assignment sure for the most part.
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The Falcons are the only two-loss team in the NFC and would be an awfully difficult playoff foe if they get home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Falcons have an excellent offense (ranked 6th in the NFL) that flows from the solid play of Ryan. Ryan has thrown 18 TD passes compared to just 5 interceptions for 2,518 yards and has a 92.9 QB rating. The Falcons also have Michael Turner at RB, and Turner has been very solid as he has rushed for 864 yards and has a 4.3 yards per carry average. Turner has also scored 6 TDs. But the biggest threat for the Falcons offensively is WR Roddy White. White leads the NFL with 79 receptions and is also second in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,017 yards. White has also scored 7 TDs. Defensively, John Abraham could be a handful for a so-so Green Bay offensive line who have been suspect to the blitz all year long. It’s well-known that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 18-1 at home in his career. But no matter where he plays, the Falcons always protect him. They’ve allowed 15 sacks this season, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL. They gave up the eighth-fewest sacks in the league last season and the fifth-fewest in 2008. That provides the crux for arguably the most critical matchup Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Packers vs Falcons Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Green Bay Packers +2
@ Atlanta Falcons -2
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Packers vs Falcons Predictions for Week 12:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – This could very well be a glance at the NFC championship game in January this Sunday. Both squads pose talented quarterbacks with lethal receiving options and both clubs have high-flying defenses. The Packers seem to be getting increasingly stronger and more dangerous each week and ever since their loss to the Dolphins they have been giving up an average of 8.2 points per contest. The Packers will have opportunities on offense as well, as the Atlanta defense has issues in the secondary, as they are only ranked No. 24 in the NFL. That should excite QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Greg Jennings, who have both been on fire as of late. Rodgers is looking more like the way he performed in 2009 as of late, as he has now thrown 19 TD passes to 9 picks for 2,601 yards and has a QB rating of 95.7. Rodgers threw 4 TD passes against the Vikings last week, and three of those TD passes went to Jennings, who is definitely the big play threat for the Packers now. Atlanta is 7-19 ATS in home games after 2 or more consecutive wins since 1992. This game poses as a great letdown opportunity as the Falcons might already be looking towards next weeks all-important divisional game against the Bucs. Interesting to note, when playing on turf the Packers are 7-3 in their last 10. We will consider the Packers earning a crucial win in the state of Georgia on Sunday afternoon.
Top Play Prediction = Packers +2
Game Total Prediction – I believe we are in store for a shoot-out in the Peach State come Sunday. Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are shoo-ins for this years Pro Bowl as they are both having career years. The loss of RB Ryan Grant for the Packers in the first game of the year has forced them to throw the ball, something that has worked out in their favor. Before Grant’s loss the Packers scored an average of 23.6 points per game while they threw the ball 60% and ran 40% of the time. Now they are scoring an average of 28.6 points per contest while throwing 72% of the time. Both clubs are built to score points, evidence enough as they are both in the top 5 in scoring. The total has gone OVER in 5 of Atlanta’s last 5 games. The total has gone OVER in 5 of Atlanta’s last 6 games when playing Green Bay and has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta’s last 5 games at home. Consider the OVER in this clash of perennial Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Prediction = OVER 47 Total Points