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NFC Championship Predictions – Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons

Shawn (11-6, 8-8-1 ATS): Apparently, the sports world has finally bought into Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. That appears self-evident as the Falcons sit as 5.5-point favorites to beat the Green Bay Packers and be NFC Champions.

That line is surprising to me. Evidently, all Ryan and the Falcons had to do to be legit was to beat a Seattle Seahawks team that had largely played uninspired ball since Earl Thomas hit injured reserve. People appear to have forgotten that the Seahawks were even more soundly thrashed by the Packers when they rolled into Lambeau Field.

Obviously the Falcons are an explosive team with the firepower to overwhelm the Packers as they did in week 8. The other half of Atlanta’s dangerous running back tandem — Tevin Coleman — did not play in that game due to injury. So, this is an even more explosive Falcons’ offense than the one that put up 33 on the Packers in that game.

However, the Packers are nowhere close to being the same team on either side of the ball. Neither Clay Matthews nor Damarious Randall played on defense in that game, for one. On offense, the Packers were especially decimated, with Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Jared Cook all out with injuries.

Ironically, all those guys are looking to play this week while the guys who started in that game — Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson — may both be out with injury.

Last week, those injuries were largely the reason why I picked the Packers to not have enough against the Dallas Cowboys. I was wrong. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers overcame their injuries rather effortlessly. Facing a softer defense this week in Atlanta, I don’t see why they can’t do that again.

Virtually everyone is predicting a shootout, and with the over in the 60s, the bettors agree. Perhaps fueled by that, I suspect the Packers may play better defense in this game than people are predicting. Do I think they will shut the Falcons’ offense down or hold them to less than 20 points? No, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they play a bigger role than they did in Dallas.

I just don’t feel like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels, among others, are going to be shutout in two straight games. I also don’t see Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being a non-factor again. Who knows? Maybe playmaking Damarious Randall will show up and cover the Falcons’ second receiver, unlike Demetri Goodson was able to do in week 8.

The key for the Packers’ defense will be stopping running back Devonta Freeman. If the Packers can keep Freeman below 100 total yards, they will probably win this game. With both Freeman and Coleman coming out of the backfield, the Packers’ inside linebackers — Joe Thomas and Jake Ryan — might be the most important players for the Packers on defense.

And even if the Packers’ defense fails, keep in mind that in that week 8 matchup, the Falcons scored to take the lead at 33-32 with 31 seconds remaining. Aaron Rodgers had 31 seconds and two timeouts to get the Packers in position for a game-winning field goal. On that occasion, he failed.

The Falcons don’t want to see that scenario again.

The Packers need to do on offense what they normally do against the Falcons. Stay in rhythm with short passes and mix in the running game. Keep Aaron Rodgers rolling.

I like the Packers’ chances. Let’s take this all the way, boys!

Packers 31, Falcons 23

Monty (11-7, 7-9-2 ATS): Just like the last two weeks making this prediction, I am anxious as hell. Well, the Green Bay Packers won the last two weeks and those are the two constants, so…

Before I get to the call, here’s what’s running through my head.

A lot of people are drinking the Atlanta Falcons’ Kool-Aid. Their offense is stellar. Much like the Packers, their defense isn’t. Yes, quarterback Matt Ryan is playing well and, more importantly, he’s playing well in the playoffs, something that was rarely the case early in his career.

Still, Ryan is only 2-4 in the playoffs. Both of those wins came at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Obviously, the Falcons aren’t playing the Seahawks this week, are they?

I’m not going to put too much stock in past playoff performance, but it is there.

Speaking of Ryan, he’s most likely going to win the MVP. You can bet your ass Aaron Rodgers is well aware of this. You can also bet your ass that Aaron Rodgers will use that as a reason to come out and try to blow Matt Ryan off the damn field.

“Let’s see who the real MVP is, pal,” is the narrative I completely expect is running through Rodgers’ mind right now.

Then there’s that first game between these two teams, this season.

Let’s give a clear picture of just who was and wasn’t playing in that contest. As Shawn mentioned, the Falcons were without Tevin Coleman. They still had their starting back, Devonta Freeman, who the Packers held to just 58 total yards.

They also had Julius Jones, who everyone seems frightened of. The Packers held Jones to just three catches for 29 yards.

Meanwhile, the Packers were without Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery, Randall Cobb, Jared Cook, James Starks, Clay Matthews, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins.

Obviously, Lacy and Starks aren’t coming back, but the Packers were then trying to cobble together a running game with Don Jackson and Knile Davis, neither of whom are on the active roster at this point.

They were trying to pass the ball without their No. 1 tight end, top slot receiver and whatever Montgomery was at that time. Now the Packers have the running game solved with Montgomery. They’re still beat up at receiver, but it appears they will have the majority of their players active there.

Even when they didn’t in the first contest, Rodgers still threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns went to guys who barely saw the field before or after. One each to Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis, their only receiving touchdowns of the season, and one to Geronimo Allison, who had just come up off the practice squad that week.

Defensively, no Matthews and, at that time, neither of the team’s top two cornerbacks. The Packers started LaDarius Gunter, who has since established himself as the team’s No. 1, and Demetri Goodson, who was then at the bottom of the Packers’ cornerback depth chart.

Lastly, the Packers — and Rodgers — were still in their early-season malaise.

And they only lost that game by one frickin’ point.

It thought that needed to be pointed out, but again, I’m not going to put a ton of stock in the first meeting.

This week, I don’t think there’s really a way the Packers’ defense can play worse than it did last week. Pretty simply, none of the defensive playmakers bothered to show up and the Packers still won. I mean, if just two of them show up from time to time this week, the Packers should be fine.

That, of course, would mean that Aaron Rodgers will need to continue his roll. I’m not betting against the guy, but let’s just say this. He needs to clean up some of the mental mistakes we saw him make last week. There were two sacks that were completely his fault. On one, all he had to do was throw the ball away. Instead, he ate it and forced Mason Crosby to make a field goal from 56. On the other, there was a clear safety blitz coming from his left side. He should have moved Ty Montgomery over to that side pre-play, but didn’t for whatever reason.

Plus, there were some inaccurate throws, one of which led to his lone interception.

Rodgers needs to play a clean game. He needs to lead this team, show them the way. And he needs to dominate.

These aren’t the Seattle Seahawks. This is a defense Rodgers should be able to toy with.

Packers 41, Falcons 33

Tags:
Shawn

Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.

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52 Comments

  1. Kato January 22, 2017

    I am not betting against Rodgers. Morgan Burnett being able to play is more key than Jordy. Packers 42 falcons 36

    1. icebowl January 22, 2017

      31-0 to start 2nd half..
      Biggest fuckin shitstorm in a long time

      PF gonna get your wish – Capers and TT won’t make it to Wednesday, MM on notice…

  2. PF4L January 22, 2017

    It boggles my mind that one of these 2 defenses are going to be in the Super Bowl.

    Last game between these 2 QB’s saw 7 td passes and 0 picks. with 125 and 129 passer ratings respectively.

    Packers roll into this game with the walking wounded receivers. I think it’s foolish to trot Nelson out there. For that reason i’m thinking he will be more of a decoy than anything. Maybe 2 or 3 pass attempts. I also see Montgomery featured more in the passing attack, possibly in the 2nd half.

    This game is to close to call for me. I wouldn’t be at all surprised with any outcome. There will be no upset.

    Falcons by 3…38-35. I might be the only one to call this game like this. But some people lead, some people follow, i’ve never ever been a follower.

    Hopefully i’m 100% wrong. Hopefully Nelson can come out of this game under his own power. Hopefully Aaron Rodgers can win this game, and YES, he’ll have to win it.

    My prediction isn’t a reflection of a lack of faith in Rodgers, it’s a lack of faith in the defense and MM. I’m going to expect the worst, and hope for the best.

    But i think this might be the last game you see Dom Capers running the defense. For me, that would be a nice consolation prize.

    Looking forward to Rob’s prediction.

  3. Gort January 22, 2017

    Can’t wait for kickoff. Really like being the underdog. Don’t bet against this TEAM, not just Rodgers. Defense forced Dallas to tie the game with a field goal. Offense got close enough to attempt a long field goal for the win. Special teams put up “3” that didn’t count and then did it again. Similar effort will be needed again. Can they do it? HELL YEAH!

    1. PF4L January 22, 2017

      The defense gave up 429 yards and 31 points. the defense didn’t force shit. the defense gave up 18 points in the 4th quarter. You can credit the defense for holding them to a field goal. But it was needed because of the 2 td’s the D gave up in the 4th quarter.

      1. icebowl January 22, 2017

        Standard MO for this D all season long – HHCD even referred to it in post game presser a few weeks ago…

        Expecting more of the same today, particularly in secondary …..

        Awaiting a nailbiter…
        Last team w ball drives to win

  4. Gort January 22, 2017

    Final drive did force a “3” and Dallas left too much time. All NFL teams have guys that are pretty good. They are motivated too. We won against a good team that refused to quit. We will never know for sure, put I think that most of us expected a loss if the game went to overtime. We won. Today is a new game, a new season. Win today – sure hope so. Really want another game in 2 weeks.

  5. Ted Hawthorne January 22, 2017

    Packer 38, Atlanta 35. Cook and RR dominate a smallish Falcon secondary, AR throwing under coverage.

  6. PF4L January 22, 2017

    If the Packers win….

    It’s worth noting they’ll either have a rematch of the 1996 or the 2010 Super Bowls.

  7. Deepsky January 22, 2017

    I keep hearing from everyone who is picking the Falcons how they played inspired football the last month and showed Super Bowl level ability.

    They beat the Saints in Atlanta in a meaningless game for the Saints, and the Saints almost beat them. The Saints had only won 7 games when they played the Falcons. They beat Carolina in Carolina. Again, a meaningless game for the 6-10 Panthers. Mr Giveup Cam Newton threw two interceptions. Then they killed the 49ers and the Rams, two teams which gave up some time in September. Those two teams combined had only 6 victories this year. The 49ers had lost 12 straight.

    It is from these 4 games that pundits have surmised that the Falcons are a Super Bowl team. Prior to this amazing winning streak by the Falcons, the Chiefs beat them in Atlanta.

    1. PF4L January 22, 2017

      They played a weak schedule, we played a weak schedule. who gives a shit. None of that matters.

      What matters is what you bring….today. And some of these highly paid defensive playmakers need to bring it, today. Maybe even, god forbid, a few high draft picks.

  8. Go pack January 22, 2017

    God I hope the pack can pull this one out. It’ll come down to whomever can get that one turnover. Whether it on a muffed punt, tipped pass or rb coughs it up. Maybe clay, peppers, haha, Morgan, Randall, Daniels, Hyde, between them, someone will step up and make a play.

    Don’t think the wr are healthy and we know what we’re getting from our d. 34-27 falcons. Rodgers will have a chance at the end but it won’t go as well as last week. Gotta start well like last week or it could get ugly real fast.

  9. Zwoeger January 22, 2017

    The question is will I attend the Super Bowl party in my home town Rotterdam, Netherlands with bells on?
    Would have to train for staying awake from 11 pm till about 5 am local time.
    The only prediction I can make is it will be another bloodpressure challenging afternoon tomorrow watching the game.
    O and Shawn one thing Randall can’t is cover.

    1. PF4L January 22, 2017

      Tomorrow?

  10. PF4L January 22, 2017

    Can Rodgers get us to the Super Bowl, and win it. And…TT. Murphy and DC retire on their own?

    I can dream!!!!

    Kick-off bitches…GO PACK GO!!

    1. Go pack January 22, 2017

      That damn d. Just can’t seem to get off the fucken field on third down.

    2. icebowl January 22, 2017

      No need to dream

  11. PF4L January 22, 2017

    1/2 time…Falcons 325 yards – 24 points.

    Let me ask you Fat Mike, is it time for a fucking changet YET?

  12. Kato January 22, 2017

    I am getting fucking hammered. Please, for the love of god, fire Capers. Chugging black tuesday, a 20% beer. I don’t want to remember this game.

  13. PF4L January 22, 2017

    Put your parental block on this website. Because i’m going off this week.

  14. PF4L January 22, 2017

    If anyone wants to post how well the Packers 0 line is playing, have at it….

    1. Go pack January 22, 2017

      Pretty much what I expected from the d. If capers keeps his job that’s a damn shame. I think Randall has to go. If they clear cap space with peppers and shields can we please get some fucking help via free agency?

      The entire team has helped shit the bed but it’s mainly on d. Never woulda thought mason would miss that one and the o line forgot how to block. Are Adams and Allison that injured that they are irrelevant?

      Wow.

      1. Go pack January 22, 2017

        Look how fast Atlanta remade their d and we’ve been spending how many years working on the d? This is on ted.

  15. icebowl January 22, 2017

    Historical shit storm…
    Hope someones cleaning out capers’ office at Lambeau as i write…

    1. Cheese January 22, 2017

      You can only hope. But with spineless Mark Murphy that probably isn’t the case.

  16. PF4L January 22, 2017

    31-0….The pissed off stage is over, now all i can do is laugh.

    PF4L
    01/20/2017 at 8:12 am

    If anyone thinks a defense can give up 338 passing ypg, and win the Super Bowl. you got fucking rocks in your head and you have a 99% chance of being wrong. But then you might say….Well, we won those last 5 games. Yes they did, Rodgers and the offense scored 34 points a game, to carry this piss poor excuse for a defense on their backs to win them.

    1. PF4L January 22, 2017

      Falcons 44 points…493 yards. Ryan = 139 passer rating.

  17. PF4L January 22, 2017

    2nd time Montgomery went out after being hit running the ball. He’s a wr, not a rb.

  18. Go pack January 22, 2017

    Crazy how fast a few plays can turn a game around. The missed fg, rip fumble. And aside from a million third and long conversions, what hurt was the 3 chances the d had at getting a turnover. One fail let to them being backed up and the other 2 led to a td right before half. They get a couple fgs instead of nothing and get the int before half and it’s 17-6 possibly 17-10 and we get the ball. Instead it’s 24-0 and then…Julio.

    The Julio td was just embarrassing and the d basically conceding.

  19. icebowl January 22, 2017

    Fucking like watching Cleveland Browns farm team (if there were such a thing)…

  20. icebowl January 22, 2017

    Overturned INT – best play of 3rd qtr

  21. Go pack January 22, 2017

    Can we show some fight and have someone on this shit d blow Ryan the fuck up if they keep passing.

  22. PF4L January 22, 2017

    Take Nelson out before he punctures a lung.

    1. Go pack January 22, 2017

      Exactly. He’s proven himself. Did all he could. I’m sure he’d play d if they let him. Can’t be worse than what we have out there.

      1. PF4L January 22, 2017

        I’m sure he was shot up for pain and all that, but it’s still gotta hurt like a mofo. To me Nelson is the hero of the game. Truth be told, probably shouldn’t have been playing.

  23. PF4L January 22, 2017

    If Fat Mike finally realizes he doesn’t have a defense that can compete, maybe he’ll stop pretending he has a running game beside Aaron Rodgers.

  24. PF4L January 22, 2017

    Time to see what Hundley has.

  25. icebowl January 22, 2017

    exactly

    Only reason I didn’t turn it off at end of half was that gale force winds are blowing here during vacation on Maui.

  26. Big B January 22, 2017

    With the 29th pick in the NFL draft the Packers select _____________(defense).
    For the 6th straight year our first round pick will have to be on defense, hopefully past performance will not predict future results. Something isn’t working on that side of the ball; Pack needs to go in a different direction.

    1. Go pack January 22, 2017

      It’ll be someone who is a. From the pack 12, b, played another sport until recently or c. We coulda had in the 4th round. Likely all of the above if ted is still in charge. Atlanta has how many rookies and 2nd year guys out there? Yeah they aren’t the best on d but they sure did hand it to us and beat us earlier in the season as well.

    2. Cheese January 22, 2017

      Remember the draft where we we picked all defense? Boy that sure worked out well.. it’s gotta be the DC or the guy picking players that can’t do their job.

      1. PF4L January 22, 2017

        How about we don’t leave it to chance and get rid of both of them?

        1. PF4L January 22, 2017

          Draft and develop baby, it takes years and years and years for the talent to develop.

          Just because we only have 1 player left from the 2011 draft, doesn’t mean it’s not working.

  27. PF4L January 22, 2017

    On the brighter side……
    1) The defense held the Falcons under 500 yards

    2) the defense held Ryan under a 140 passer rating.

    3)The defense held the Falcons under 50 points.

    4) If you try to tackle Rodgers when he’s in a bad mood, he will rip off your fucking helmet, then punk bitch your ass.

    On the truthful side….
    1) The Falcons could have scored 60 points, and gained over 600 yards, if they wanted to.

    1. icebowl January 22, 2017

      Excellent play summary PF – you just did Montys job ……..

  28. Bob January 22, 2017

    Dom Capers shit the bed on this loss along with Tight Ted Thomson. As long as they are here don’t hope for anything different

  29. PF4L January 22, 2017

    What do they do with all the Packer NFCCG game hats and t-shirts they have made up in case they won?

  30. Howard January 22, 2017

    Well maybe two teams will show up for the next game. At least I will be able to see a game with two physical defenses.

  31. PF4L January 22, 2017

    I’ll take the Patriots over the dirty birds.

  32. Howard January 22, 2017

    When Capers goes this week I hope no position coaches from this defense are promoted. This defense has to start over with a new coordinator who chooses his own position coaches. Maybe the new coordinator will keep some of the position coaches but it would not hurt my feelings if they let everyone go. The new coordinator must have a strong personality and aggressiveness in order to force the new GM and MM to draft and sign players that fit his plan. My fear is MM may not want to bring in someone with that personality. A Kevin Greene type personality would work for me.

    1. Empacador January 22, 2017

      As long as McCarthy insists on running a 3-4 scheme, good luck to whoever ends up coaching.

      1. Howard January 22, 2017

        I hope you have seen what I think about the 3-4. Do not like it. One of the reasons is it has to many breakdowns.It is based on smoke and mirrors, trying to fool the opponent. not imposing your will and being physical. I will admit that may be caused by teams always having young players who are more likely to be confused. The one team that does run a good 3-4 is NE. The thing about NE is they tend to bring in experienced lower priced free agents into their defense that fit what they are looking for. There is a reason experienced defensive players go to NE and it is not because Capers is there.