NFC Championship Betting Preview: #4 Green Bay Packers at #2 Atlanta Falcons

2017 NFL Playoffs
NFC Championship Game
#4 Green Bay Packers at #2 Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, January 22, 2017, 3:05 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Atlanta -5
Current Line: Atlanta -6 (-105)
Opening Total: 60 1/2
Current Total: 60 1/2
Opening Money Line: Falcons -200 / Packers +170
Current Money Line: Falcons -225 / Packers +185

Falcons Packers NFC Playoff Game Preview
Atlanta is favored over Green Bay in the NFC Championship game.

The 12-6 Green Bay Packers travel to the 12-5 Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Sunday. The winner will advance to Super Bowl LI in Houston in two weeks to face either the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.

Green Bay won the NFC North by winning the last six games of the regular season after a four game losing streak dropped them to 4-6. The Packers are the #4 seed in the NFC. The host streak has continued in the playoffs as the packers beat the New York Giants 38-13 in Green Bay in the wild card game. Last week, Green Bay upset the #1 seed Dallas Cowboys 34-31 on the road. In that game, the Packers jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first half and led 28-13 going into the fourth. The Cowboys would rally to tie the game at 28. The last two minutes saw three 50 yard field goals. Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby kicked a 51 yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers the 34-31 win. This was after quarterback Aaron Rodgers made an incredible throw to tight end Jared Cook who made an even better catch by dragging his toes by the sideline. The Packers are looking for their sixth trip to the Super Bowl and first since 2011.

Atlanta won the NFC South and have won five straight games. The Falcons received a first round bye as the #2 seed in the NFC. Atlanta dismantled the #3 seed Seattle Seahawks 36-20 last Saturday in the Georgia Dome. There were some key plays early in the second quarter that completely turned the game around. Seattle appeared to take a a 13-7 lead on a 52 yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Paul Richardson. However, replay officials reversed the call and said he was down by contact at the19 yard line. The Seahawks woludl have to settle for a 33 yard field goal. After a long punt return by the Seahawks’ Devin Hester was nullified by an illegal block in the back, Wilson’s center stepped on his foot in the end zone and caused a safety for the Falcons. Atlanta added 10 points before the end of the half and led 19-10. Seattle never threatened again. The Falcons return to the NFC Championship for the fourth time and look to return to the Super Bowl for only the second time after playing in the 1998 Super Bowl.

Green Bay leads the series 17-14 against Atlanta including 2-1 in the playoffs. The Falcons won 33-32 against the Packers in week 8 of this season in Atlanta to snap a four game losing streak against Green Bay. That late October meeting was a back and forth shootout. Neither team led by more than 8 points. Green Bay took a 32-26 lead with just under four minutes left. Atlanta drove down the field and retook the lead with 31 seconds left. The Packers turned the ball over on downs as the Falcons held on for the one point win. The two teams combined for just under 700 yards and 49 first downs. Green Bay was missing several key players in that game including Randall Cobb, Cook, Ty Montgomery and Clay Matthews.

Green Bay is coached by Mike McCarthy. Green Bay has road wins at the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-23, Philadelphia Eagles 27-13, Chicago Bears 30-27 and Detroit Lions 31-24, plus home wins against the Lions 34-27, New York Giants 23-16, Bears 26-10, Houston Texans 21-13, Seahawks 38-10 and Minnesota Vikings 38-25. The Packers have road losses at the Minnesota Vikings 17-14, Atlanta Falcons 33-32, Tennessee Titans 47-25, and Washington Redskins 42-24, along with home losses to the Dallas Cowboys 30-16 and Indianapolis Colts 31-26. Green Bay was a 5.5 point underdog against Dallas and the total was 52.5. The Packers are 11-6-1 ATS and the total is 12-6 this season.

Atlanta is coached by Dan Quinn. The Falcons lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24, San Diego Chargers 33-30 in overtime and Kansas City Chiefs 29-28, plus road losses at the Seattle Seahawks 26-24 and Philadelphia Eagles 24-15. Atlanta has road wins over the Oakland Raiders 35-28, New Orleans Saints 45-32, Denver Broncos 23-16, Buccaneers 43-28, Los Angeles Rams 42-14, and Carolina Panthers 33-16, plus home wins over the Panthers 48-33, Packers 33-32, Arizona Cardinals 38-19, San Francisco 49ers 41-13 and Saints 38-32. Atlanta was a 6.5 point favorite against Seattle and the total was 51. The Falcons are 11-6 ATS and the total is 14-2-1 this season.

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Green Bay is outscoring teams 27-24. The Packers are #4 in scoring but #21 in points allowed.  The Packers average 369 yards per game on offense including 262 passing and 106 rushing yards. Green Bay is #7 in passing and #8 in total offense. On defense, Green Bay allows 364 total yards per game including 269 passing and 95 rushing yards per game. The Packers are #8 in rush defense and #31 in pass defense. Green Bay is 105/227 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 94/217. The Packers have forced 40 sacks and allowed 35 this season. Green Bay is +8 in turnovers.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has completed 65.7% of his passes for 4,428 yards with 40 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 67 carries  for 369 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has been playing some incredible football during the winning streak and is an MVP candidate. He is probable with an illness.

Receiver turned running back Ty Montgomery has 77 carries for 457 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 44 catches for 348 yards. Running back Eddie Lacy has 71 carries for 360 yards, plus 4 catches for 28 yards. He is out for the season with an ankle injury. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski has 34 carries for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. James Starks has 63 carries for 165 yards plus 19 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out with a concussion. The Packers signed Christine Michael off waivers from the Seahawks a few weeks ago. He led the Seahawks in rushing before being released. He is questionable with a back injury. Don Jackson and John Crockett are also both out for the season.

Receiver Jordy Nelson has 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is questionable with broken ribs suffered against the Giants last week. Davante Adams has 75 catches for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Randall Cobb has 60 catches for 610 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 10 carries for 33 yards. Tight end Jared Cook has 30 catches for 377 yards and a touchdown.  Tight end Richard Rodgers has 30 catches for 271 and 2 touchdowns. Seven defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report. Kicker Mason Crosby is also probable with an illness.

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Atlanta is outscoring teams 34-25 this season. The Falcons are #1 in scoring and #27 in points allowed. Atlanta averages 416 yards per game on offense including 295 passing yards and 121 rushing yards. Atlanta is in the top five in all three categories. On defense, Atlanta allows 371 yards per game including 267 passing and 105 rushing yards. Atlanta is #25 in total defense and #28 against the pass. The Falcons are 83/202 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 117/238. Atlanta has forced 34 sacks and allowed 37 this season. The Falcons are +11 in turnovers with 5 defensive touchdowns.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 69.9% of his passes for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, plus 35 carries for 117 yards. He is also an MVP candidate.

Running back Devonta Freeman has 227 carries for 1079 yards and 11 touchdowns and also has 54 catches for 462 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tevin Coleman has 118 carries for 520 yards and 8 touchdowns, and also has 31 catches for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns. Terron Ward has 31 carries for 151 yards.

Receiver Julio Jones has 83 catches for 1,409 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with a toe injury that he has been battling for the second half of the season.  Mohamed Sanu has 59 catches for 653 yards and 4 touchdowns. Taylor Gabriel has 35 catches for 579 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with a foot injury. Aldrick Robinson has 20 catches for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns. Austin Hooper has 19 catches for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Levine Toilolo has 13 catches for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Justin Hardy has 21 catches for 201 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Jacob Tamme has 22 catches for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is out with a shoulder injury. Ten defensive players are listed on the injury report for the Falcons.

Green Bay is 5-0 ATS in playoffs, against teams with winning records, in January, after passing for 250 yards or more, and after allowing 250 passing yards or more, 4-0 in road playoff games, after a straight up win, overall and against NFC teams, 6-1 on fieldturf, 5-1 against teams with winning home records, and after a cover, 4-1 in NFC Championship games, 6-2-1 after scoring 30 points or more, 36-15 after allowing more than 350 total yards, 40-18-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards, and 1-6 after allowing more than 30 points. The road team is 5-0 ATS in this series and the underdog is 8-2 in this series recently. The Packers are 4-1 ATS in their last five trips to Atlanta.

Atlanta is 4-0 ATS after gaining more than 350 total yards, 5-1 against NFC teams, 4-1 after passing for more than 250 yards, and overall, 8-3 after a straight up win, 5-2 against teams with winning records, 7-3 after scoring 30 points or more, 5-12 after a straight up win by 14 points or more, 2-5 at home, 1-5 in January, and 1-6 in playoff games.

This will not be a defensive struggle. I see another shootout like the previous meetings. I think whoever has the ball last will win. I like the Packers to win a close game.

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