Photo via Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
#4 Green Bay Packers (10-6) at #2 Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Atlanta Falcons (-5) via Top Bet
Atlanta, Georgia (Georgia Dome)
January 22th, 12:05 PM (PST)
How each team has got to this point:
Green Bay Packers
- 10-6 Regular Season (have won the last 8 games including playoffs)
- Wild Card Birth
- Defeated the New York Giants (11-5) 38-13 in the Wild Card Round
- Defeated the Dallas Cowboys (13-3) 34-31 in the Divisional Round
- 11-5 Regular Season and NFC South Champions
- 2nd overall seed in the NFC and first round bye
- Defeated the Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1) 36-20 in the Divisional Round
- Atlanta beat the Packers 33-32 in the Georgia Dome on October 30
- It was a high scoring and close game. It should be similar to what we will see this Sunday
- Rodgers threw for 246 yards, 4 TD and ran for 60 yards
- Matt Ryan threw for 288 yards and 3 TD
- Here are highlights from their first meeting
“The Falcons are the favorites that they should be.”
Stats are not going to be able to predict this game. By using stats and basic logic, the Falcons are the favorites that they should be. However, what Aaron Rodgers is doing is not logical and can not be quantified, subsequently, making what should be an easy game to pick, quite tough despite the obvious advantages for the Falcons.
Atlanta has the top offense in the NFL scoring almost 34 points a game during the regular season. They backed it up with 36 points last week against a very good Seattle defense. There are no questions about their offense and they get to go against a much weaker Green Bay defense that ranks 31st in the NFL against the pass and 22nd in total yards against.
Green Bay who gave up close to 270 yards a game through the air has given up over 290 yards passing in both playoff games. I am not saying that there defense is worse, because they are playing better teams in the playoffs, but by no means are they better than they were during the regular season in which they ranked 31st.
In addition, Atlanta and Matt Ryan has not had a good history in the playoffs. It was well documented in my preview of Atlanta’s Divisional Round win over Seattle, in which Matt Ryan proved me and my prediction wrong by showing that he has gotten over his playoff struggles. Therefore, the one weakness that could be pointed to is now gone. The offense and Matt Ryan is going to do what they have the entire year, score at least 30 points.
Unlike the Packers defense, the Falcons defense has gotten better as the season progressed. Atlanta ranked near the bottom of the league with the 26th ranked pass defense giving up 266 yards per game during the regular season. However, in their last 8 games they have improved their pass defense mightily by only giving up 233 yards per game which would have been good enough to rank in the top 10 during the regular season.
“Atlanta will hope to jump on them early, and if they do, they will be well on their way to Houston.”
If Atlanta can get ahead early, then their defense should more closely resemble the defense of the last 8 games of the season. With the home crowd and the ferocious pass rush led by Vic Beasley Jr. (the NFL sack leader with 15.5) it’ll be hard for any offense to move the ball. It could also make Aaron Rodgers feel the need to force the ball into small windows and possibly have a few costly turnovers. Atlanta will hope to jump on them early, and if they do, they will be well on their way to Houston.
“I don’t see [Atlanta] getting back to an NFC championship game in the future.”
In all honesty, I don’t see Atlanta having as good of a chance at a Super Bowl than they do right now because of the following factors:
- The Cowboys are young and will only get better.
- The Carolina Panthers had a down year.
- Jameis Winston is only going to get better.
- Teddy Bridgewater was out for the whole year.
- Seattle lost their heart and soul, Earl Thomas.
A lot went right for Atlanta this year and the future is only going to get tougher. They are going to have to take advantage of the opportunity they have right now because I don’t see them getting back to an NFC championship game in the future. It will be a dog fight for them to just make it back to the playoffs next year and teams don’t put up offensive numbers like Atlanta did two years in a row. This is Atlanta’s shot and they must not squander it.
“Aaron Rodger’s recent play has defied logic.”
What I am about to say contradicts everything above. It contradicts logic. Atlanta is the better team, has had the better season, has the better stats, is at home and has an MVP candidate. However, Aaron Rodger’s recent play has defied logic. He is having one of the greatest stretches in sports history and I just don’t think anything will get in his way. Rodgers and the Packers have a feeling of a special season that can’t be explained. Therefore, I expect them to get their 9th straight win and head to Houston.
Green Bay 31 Atlanta 30
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.