Green Bay Packers (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (13-3 SU,
11-5 ATS), NFC Divisional Playoffs, 8:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, January
15, 2011, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga., TV: FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: GB +2/ATL -2
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The second game of the NFLs Rematch Saturday in the Divisional
Playoffs features the NFCs version of another retry, when the Green
Bay Packers return to the Georgia Dome for a second time this season
for another match against the Atlanta Falcons in a primetime showdown on Fox.
The Pack earned a second chance at Atlanta this weekend after their, 21-16, victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wildcard game in
Philly last Sunday. The Packers found a running game with rookie
James Starks (23 carries, 123 yards) against the Eagles, and Aaron
Rodgers was deadly with play-action resulting in three touchdowns in
just 180 yards in the wildcard win on the road.
Now its back on the road to Atlanta where the Falcons will be rested
and waiting, with time to dissect the game film from their, 20-17,
victory over the Packers in the Georgia Dome back in late November to
try and scheme for another win. The Falcons have essentially had two
weeks off counting their 31-10 win over hapless Carolina in the
finale, so the Georgia Dome should be loud with anticipation for
their first NFC Divisional playoff game in years.
The opening betting line out of Las Vegas listed the Falcons as just
2-point favorites at home in the G-Dome, so even the oddsmakers are
anticipating a close game. Most of the early money is coming in on
the Packers, causing some offshore sportsbooks to drop the point
spread down to Falcons minus 1-point, but theres still plenty of
books still listing the number at 2-points so not everyone has their
short-memory sights set on Green Bay.
The over/under total opened at 45.5 and has dropped to 45 at a few sportsbooks, but for the most part the original number is holding allowing you to get the hook if you want it.
Its surprising to say this, but the role of Starks in the Packers
running game has become a big key to this game offensively. Back in
week 12 the Packers ran for 77 yards in the game, but 51 of those
yards came as Rodgers was scrambling for his life, so the Packers run
game was completely non-existent in the earlier loss.
Rodgers still went on to throw for 344 yards, but suffered the first
of his two concussions of the season at the end of the game, so the
Packers must find a way to keep the Falcons from slapping him around
as much as the did in the first game.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was deadly in the first game, going 24-
of-28 in his passing, but the Falcon offense as a whole struggled to
just 293 yards of total offense. What proved to be the difference was
the run game of Michael Turner, gaining 110 yards on the ground with
a score to help grind the ball into field goal range for Matt
Bryants 47-yarder won it with nine seconds left in the game.
The Falcons will need Turner to be the same bowling-pin runner his
was in the first meeting, especially now since the Packers got
defensive end Cullen Jenkins back last week versus the Eagles to
fortify the d-line, to try and duplicate the same results as early
and give the Falcons a shot at the NFC title game.
Trying to successfully handicap this game based on the betting trends
will be a tough proposition this week, because a lot of them
contradict each other.
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For instance, the Packers are getting the early steam at the window
and could be a great pick since the underdog is 5-1 ATS in the head-
to-head series between these two teams, and the road team is also an
attractive 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings. But the Packers are just
1-5 ATS in those same six meetings, including a non-cover as
(ironically) 2.5-point underdogs this season, so the one non-cover in
those 5-1 ATS numbers is on the Packers.
The Falcons are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall and a solid
10-4 ATS as a home favorite in the Georgia Dome where Ryan is
something like 18-2 SU in his career. But the pressure is different
in the playoffs and the Falcons dont do as well against teams that
have a winning record on the road (9-20-1 ATS in L30 home games vs.
The over/under betting trends contradict too, with the under going 8-1 in Packer road games this year and 5-1 on fieldturf surfaces,
while its the over thats a perfect 6-0 in the Falcons last six
Saturday games and 7-2-2 in the Falcons last 11 games overall.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Its tough to beat a team twice in the same building
in the same season. Plus, I think the Packers defense is playing
better football right now, which is huge in the playoffs. Im taking
the Packers plus the points.