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Green Bay vs. Atlanta NFC Divisional Playoffs Preview & Free Pick

Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons NFL Divisional Playoffs Gambling & Free Predictions

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NFL Divisional Playoff: Packers vs Falcons Preview & Pick
Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011
Venue: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Broadcast: FOX
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons Betting Lines from Sportsbook.com
Money Line: Packers +120, Falcons -140
Spread: Falcons -2.5
Over/Under: 44
Bet now @ BetUs.com!

Green Bay Packers (10-6, 1-0 postseason)

So many people picked the Packers to “upset” the Eagles last week that I almost expect the line to shift in Green Bay’s favor. The Pack were simply peaking at the right time. Aaron Rodgers’ concussion woes appeared to be behind him and he exploited a young, sometimes overzealous Eagles secondary; the book was out on Michael Vick and the Green Bay “D,” full of playmakers, made every play difficult for him.

Can the Packers pull off an encore at the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons are 20-2 with Matt Ryan as their starting quarterback? Well, they almost did it on November 28, falling 20-17 to the Falcons. You could argue that Green Bay gave that game to the Falcons with turnovers and penalties.

It’s pretty much a given that Rodgers will have at least some success against Atlanta this week. He threw for 341 yards and a score against them in the last meeting and ran for 51 yards and another score. The big question is whether or not the Pack can follow up their surprisingly good rushing effort of last week.

The running game was supposed to be Green Bay’s one major weakness but James Starks set a franchise rookie record with 123 yards on 23 carries. To me, the performance was sustainable. He didn’t gain half his yardage on an 80-yard TD scamper or anything; Starks kept it simple and consistently ground out six, eight and 10 yards.

Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

For a 13-3 team, the Falcons have gotten surprisingly little respect this season. Maybe it’s because the 14-2 Patriots overshadowed them; maybe it’s because they won seven games by seven points or less this season; maybe it’s because their “D” was 16th overall and 22nd against the pass.

All those factors beg the question: will the Falcons be exposed as pretenders this week? Did everything just break their way in the regular season?

Let’s not go that far just yet. Offensively, the Falcons are the real deal. Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner didn’t pick their spots. They carved up some legitimate defenses this season and alternated committing to the run or the pass depending on the matchup. Ryan and White exploited the Ravens’ secretly suspect pass defense in a Thursday nighter; facing a very good Tampa secondary, the Falcons shifted gears and let Michael Turner run wild.

The pick:

Since the Packers are far worse against the run (18th) than they are against the pass (fifth), it would make sense for Atlanta to make Michael Turner the focal point of their offense on Saturday. There’s just one problem: what if the Falcons aren’t leading the game?

I’m not so sure they can stop Rodgers. He and the Pack moved the ball repeatedly on Philadelphia, a superior defensive team to Atlana; Rodgers threw for three scores despite his receivers struggling with drops in the cold weather. Now that the matchup shifts to the cushy Georgia Dome, I expect Green Bay’s passing game to really explode.

Green Bay has the better passing game and, if James Starks keeps up the good work, a satisfactory running game. It has the better defense. It’s playing with a lot of confidence and desperation against a team that clinched a playoff berth weeks ago and allows lots of yardage. If the Pack could beat Philly on the road, I think this matchup is easier, so I have to pick them to win.

Gambling Trends:

Under is 8-1 in GB last 9 road games.
GB are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
GB are 25-12-1 ATS in their last 38 road games.
ATL are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
Over is 7-2-2 in ATL last 11 games overall.
Over is 5-2-2 in ATL last 9 vs. NFC.

Packers vs Falcons prediction: Packers 28, Falcons 21

Money Line: Packers +120
Spread: Packers +2.5
Over/Under: OVER 44

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.