Shawn (4-2, 1-2-3 ATS): There are plenty of reasons to pick against the Green Bay Packers this week. The Packers have faced two good NFC teams this season in Dallas and Minnesota, and lost to both of them. A couple weeks ago, the Atlanta Falcons looked to clearly be one of the better teams in the NFC, but that was before two losses in a row got them headed in the wrong direction.
The other main reason to pick against the Packers is injuries: the bye did very little to slow them down, and now the mini-bye has done no better. The Packers are literally playing with their fourth best corner being their No. 1, while their fifth corner plays the other side.
Normally, that would sound like disaster against the second-rated passing offense. However, if there was more than one guy there to worry about, I would worry about it. There isn’t. The entire passing attack essentially lies on Julio Jones’ shoulders. Atlanta also had a good check down weapon in Tevin Coleman, but he is out. That makes Jones the only explosive player on the offense.
By the way, the Packers are back to being No. 1 in the NFL against the run, and that will be tested again this week by Devonta Freeman. I think Freeman is underrated, but I also like the Packers’ chances to hold him down and put the offense in Matt Ryan’s hands.
The Packers have had the Falcons’ number ever since they met in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2011. Regardless of the myriad of reasons to pick against the Packers, I am sticking with them, and it is for the same reason that the Packers typically win against the Falcons.
The Falcons are ranked 31st against the pass. They are ninth against the run, but the Packers don’t care. Don’t be surprised to see Aaron Rodgers throw it about as many times as he did against the Bears. Rodgers has had his share of success in the Georgia Dome, and I think that can happen again.
The short passing game will control the clock and keep the Falcons’ offense off the field, helping the Packers’ defense. I also think it will put up enough points for the Packers to do something they rarely do — win as an underdog.
Packers 27, Falcons 24
Monty (4-2, 1-3-2 ATS): The one thing I can correctly say about the Green Bay Packers is they’re unpredictable. That makes picking these games an exercise in futility, as you can see by my record against the spread.
The Atlanta Falcons are a three-point favorite at home, which sounds about right. Per usual, when the Falcons appear to have a good team, I am totally unconvinced of that being the case.
This team wins with offense, which is pretty much contrary to how every other good team wins football games these days. They throw the ball and they throw it some more, which has been the Packers’ defense biggest issue this season. Should we expect anything different this week?
I won’t predict that the Packers’ secondary is going to shut down the Atlanta passing attack. However, I do think the matchup of LaDarius Gunter and Julio Jones is the best matchup for the Packers. Gunter is more physical than any of the Packers’ other corners, even though he is technically the No. 4 guy on the depth chart. I doubt he’ll shut Jones down, but I also don’t expect him to dominate this game.
And that ultimately will leave it to Aaron Rodgers and the offense to get things done. They’re going to need to control the clock. I expect them to do so with a mix of the short passing attack we saw last week and some semblance of a running game. You’ve got Don Jackson and Knile Davis. You might as well use them.
I believe the Packers can do this. It isn’t necessarily that they’re the kind of great team to go on the road and deliver a huge win. It’s more that I don’t believe the Falcons are really as good as their early-season success suggests.
Packers 24, Falcons 20