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Packers vs. Falcons
NFL Divisional Playoffs
Betting Line: Check it Here
NFL Fans will get their money's worth this week as there are 3 solid NFL playoff games, with only the Seahawks - Bears game looking like a dud. One of those great games is the Green Bay Packers visiting Atlanta to take on the Falcons. These two met a few weeks ago in a game that was decided as time expired with a Matt Bryant field goal and a Falcons win, by 3.
We like the Falcons here but that is in no way a knock against these Packers. They are a deserving team. We've had our eye on them all year. We love defense, especially come playoff time, and the Packers deliver in that department. You know the saying, defense wins championships. Well, of all the playoff teams, the Packers sport the best yards per point number on defense with a very good 21. Doesn't get much better than that in the NFL.
The Packers also have one of the best QB's in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. a top 3 QB, a great defense, what's not to like?
For starters, the Packers aren't playing the little sisters of the poor this week. The Falcons also fit the profile of a championship team. They also have one of the best QB's in the NFL along with the NFC's leading rusher in Michael Turner. The Falcons defense also ranks among the best with a ypp number of 18 or so, 19 at home actually, which puts them in the same boat as the Ravens and Steelers in that category.
If you put these two teams on a neutral field, and compare these teams player for player, not much is going to separate them, but the feeling here is that the Falcons would be the slightly better team. Both teams have playoff characteristics, but where the edge has to go to the Falcons is on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers rushing attack was 24th in the NFL this year. Again, the Falcons Turner leads the NFC in rushing. Running the ball is one characteristic of a championship caliber team that the Packers do not have and the Falcons do.
The Packers have a yards per point number of about 19 on offense, on the road this year, where they are 4-5. 19 is a bad number folks. The Falcons ypp number at home is 13.3 offensively. Of all the playoff teams, that puts the Falcons 2nd, behind only Tom Brady and the Pats. That 19 puts the Packers last among playoff teams, and behind many non playoff teams as well.
But it's not just the Packers one dimensional offense that has us on the Falcons here. There are additional factors that take that small edge the Falcons already possess and widen the gap even more. Specifically, the fact that the Falcons are playing at home and have had a week off to prepare and get healthy.
NFL teams play a 16 game schedule with specific goals in mind. First and foremost, make the playoffs. Secondly, get home field advantage. In the Falcons case, they succeeded. They are the top seed and have home field throughout the playoffs. You can't underestimate how significant that edge is come playoff time.
Compare the two teams over the last few weeks. The final week of the season, the Falcons had the Panthers KO'd by halftime. They were playing for home field throughout the playoffs. They already knew they'd be in the playoffs. From that point on, key starters were rested and playoff preparation began. Meanwhile, the Packers were in a dogfight with the Bears in an attempt to just make the playoffs. That game went down to the last snap.
Once they got by the Bears, they had to start preparing for the Eagles. Then,
they had to hop on a plane and travel to Philly and play the actual game, a game
that went down to the very last play. Meanwhile, the Falcons were able to look
ahead and prepare for either of the two teams they would face, all the while
getting healthy and rested.
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After beating Philly, the Packers had to board a plane, fly back to Green Bay, where the next day, they would begin preparations for the Falcons. They then have a short week to prepare, as this game is on Saturday night, before once again boarding a plane and flying to the East Coast to play the actual game. Remember, the Falcons have been home preparing for two weeks.
The extra prep time and rest only magnifies a significant home field edge that already exists here. The Falcons Matt Ryan is 20-2 at home. Yes, 20-2. Almost 20-1 but they couldn't pull it out against the Saints a couple of weeks ago in a game the Saints needed more.
Last time they played, a 3 point Falcons win, they played on even terms. This time around, the field is slanted the Falcons way. Even is you assume these two teams are dead even on a neutral field, Once you give the Falcons 2 or 3 points for home field edge and then give them an additional edge of a point or two for the time off and extra prep time, you're looking at a fair line of Atlanta -3, maybe even -4. Where the line sits now, insinuates that the Packers are the better team on a neutral field, and we don't buy it.
We'd be surprised if this line didn't close a solid -3 across the board. We have all the respect in the world for the Packers. They are a big time team with a big time defense, with some legitimate super stars on both sides of the ball. But they aren't a complete team. There are still some pieces to the puzzle missing and overcoming the edges against them in this spot is going to be a tall task. Remember, they almost let the Eagles come back and steal the game last week and the Eagles numbers don't compare to the Falcons.
We'd likely have played the Falcons in this spot without the extra week of and additional prep time. Those factors simply put it over the top.
3* Key Release Falcons -1 -125
**Note - As a result of cashing a money line play on the Jets last week at +123, we're going to go ahead and lay the added juice here to get Atlanta -1. But we still like this play up to -2.5