NFL Week #14 Monday Night Football Picks: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field – Green Bay, Wisconsin

Monday, December 8, 2014, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Green Bay -11
Current Line: Green Bay -13 (-115)
Opening Total: 55 1/2
Current Total: 55 1/2
Opening Money Line: Packers -600 / Falcons +460
Current Money Line: Packers -700 / Falcons +500

The Packers are 13 point favorites against the Falcons Monday night in a key NFC battle.
The Packers are 13 point favorites against the Falcons Monday night in a key NFC battle.

The 9-3 Green Bay Packers and 5-7 Atlanta Falcons both lead their respective divisions as they meet Monday in Green Bay. The Packers lead the NFC North by a half game over the 9-4 Detroit Lions. Green Bay can also tie the 10-3 Arizona Cardinals for the best record in the NFC with a win Monday. Atlanta leads the NFC South over the 5-8 New Orleans Saints and 4-8-1 Carolina Panthers. Win or lose Monday, Atlanta holds the tiebreaker over the Saints.

Since 2001, Green Bay leads the series 5-4 against Atlanta. The Packers have won three straight games against the Falcons including 22-21 last year in Green Bay. The two teams met in the playoffs in 2003 and 2011 with each winning on the road.

Atlanta is coached by Mike Smith. The Falcons started off the season 2-1 but then lost 5 straight games. Atlanta has won 3 of the last 4 games. The Falcons have home wins over the Saints 37-34 in overtime, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14, and last week against the Cardinals 29-18 and road wins at the Buccaneers 27-17 and Carolina Panthers 19-17. Atlanta has road losses at the Cincinnati Bengals 24-10, Minnesota Vikings 41-28, New York Giants 30-20, Baltimore Ravens 29-7 and Detroit Lions 22-21 in London, plus home losses to the Chicago Bears 27-13 and Cleveland Browns 26-24. The Falcons are 5-7 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. Atlanta was a 1.5 point underdog against the Cardinals and the total was 45.5.

Green Bay is coached by Mike McCarthy. The Packers have road losses at the Seattle Seahawks 36-16, Lions 19-7 and New Orleans Saints 44-23. Green Bay has won 8 of their last 9 games including 4 straight. The Packers have home wins over the New York Jets 31-24, Vikings 42-10, Carolina Panthers 38-17, Chicago Bears 55-14, Philadelphia Eagles 53-20 and last week against the New England Patriots 26-21. Green Bay has road wins over the Bears 38-17, Miami Dolphins 27-24 and Vikings 24-21. The Packers are 7-4-1 ATS and the total is 9-3 this season. Green Bay was a 2.5 point favorite against New England and the total was 57.

Atlanta is being outscored 25-24 this season. Atlanta is #22 in points allowed and #11 in scoring. The Falcons are averaging 374 yards per game on offense including 277 passing yards and 97 rushing yards. Atlanta is #10 in total offense, #5 in passing and #23 in rushing. The Falcons are allowing 403 total yards per game on defense including 285 passing yards and 118 rushing yards. Atlanta is 21st or worse in all defensive categories including dead last in both total and pass defense. The Falcons are 71/167 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 74/160 on third and fourth down conversions. Atlanta has 14 sacks and has allowed 24. The Falcons are +6 in turnovers. Atlanta has 2 defensive/ special teams touchdowns and has allowed 2 defensive touchdowns.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 65.8% of his passes for 3,427 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus 21 carries for 82 yards. Running back Steven Jackson has 159 carries for 602 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 16 catches for 97 yards. Devonta Freeman has 48 carries for 180 yards, along with 22 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.  Antone Smith has 23 carries for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. He injured his knee against Carolina and is out for the season. Jacquizz Rodgers has 33 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown.

Julio Jones has 22 catches for 1,169 yards and 5 touchdowns. Roddy White has 56 catches for 662 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with an ankle injury. Devin Hester has 27 catches for 362 yards with a touchdown, plus a punt return for a touchdown. Harry Douglas has 30 catches for 339 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a foot injury. Six offensive linemen are questionable or out as are six defensive players.

Green Bay is outscoring teams 33-23 this season. The Packers lead the league in scoring. The Packers are averaging 378 total yards per game including 269 passing and 109 rushing yards. Green Bay is #8 in total offense and #8 in passing. On defense, Green Bay is allowing 367 yards per game including 235 passing and 132 rushing yards per game. The Packers are #23 in total defense and #27 in rush defense. Green Bay is 71/152 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 76/175. The Packers have forced 28 sacks and allowed 26 this season. Green Bay has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns and has allowed 2 this season. The Packers are +15 in turnovers.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has completed 66.3% of his passes for 3,325 yards with 32 touchdowns and 3 picks, plus 33 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown. He is a contender for league MVP. Remarkably, he has not thrown an interception at Lambeau since December 2012. Running back Eddie Lacy has 175 carries for 770 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 31 catches for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns. James Starks has 59 carries for 210 yards and a touchdown, plus 11 catches for 82 yards.

Receiver Jordy Nelson has 70 catches for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns. Randall Cobb has 65 catches for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns. Davante Adams has 34 catches for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns. Andrew Quarless has 23 catches for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns. Six defensive players are questionable or out.

Atlanta is 4-1 ATS in week 14, in December and on grass, 3-8-1 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 1-3-1 against teams with winning home records, 1-5 after passing for over 250 yards, and in road games, and 0-4 after a straight up win. The road team has covered 7 of the last 8 games in this series. The underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 games in this series. The Falcons have covered the last 4 trips to Green Bay.

Green Bay is 7-2 ATS overall, 3-1-1 after gaining 350 yards or more, 5-2 after a straight up win, and against NFC teams, 15-6 in December, 35-15-1 on grass, 35-16-2 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 33-16-2 at home, 1-4 against teams with losing road records, and 1-7 against teams with losing records.

The Packers look like the best team in football right now. On paper, they should destroy the Falcons. However, this seems like a potential let down game after a big win over the Patriots. The Falcons aren’t very good but they have the talent to be dangerous. Not surprisingly, for Green Bay in December snow is expected. I think the Falcons hang around and score late to get the back door cover.

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