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NFC Championship Predictions
Two teams with differing playoff histories, the Green Bay Packers are the experienced team in the NFC Championship Game, with four Super Bowl victories. The Atlanta Falcons have appeared in just one Super Bowl and lost the game.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers betting tips
By Bob Duff
When studying the respective playoff histories of the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons, they share one common trait - both lost a Super Bowl game to the Denver Broncos - the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and the Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. But once you get beyond that commonality, their postseason paths diverge.
This will be Atlanta's fourth appearance in the NFC Championship Game and they are 1-2 so far, losing at home to San Francisco in 2012-13, and at Philadelphia in 2004-05 but winning as a 10-point underdog at Minnesota in 1998-99. This will mark the first time the Falcons enter the NFC Championship Game as the favorite.
Green Bay will be playing in its sixth NFC Championship Game. The Packers are 3-3 but are 1-1 on the road, winning 21-14 at Chicago in 2010-11 en route to the most recent of their four Super Bowl triumphs. The Packers are 1-1 against the spread as a road underdog in the NFC title game.
A game that could look more like an NBA playoff game than NFL postseason action, the challenge is to determine which potent offense will prevail. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has tossed 24 touchdown passes and one interception since Nov. 20. Green Bay has committed only two turnovers during its eight-game winning streak.
Atlanta's offense ranks with the best in NFL history, scoring 540 points, tied for eighth most all time. The Falcons have averaged 35.1 points per game at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, the odds-on favorite to win the NFL MVP award, has passed for 1,469 yards, 14 TDs and no interceptions during the Falcons' five-game winning streak, posting a quarterback rating of 131.8.
Atlanta is also the NFL's most efficient offense, turning the ball over just 11 times, tied for the league low, and the Falcons have lost the ball just once in the past five games.
Green Bay has averaged 30.2 points per game during its win streak, while the Falcons have put up 34.9 points per game during their winning run. Like last week's Dallas-Green Bay game, this one could come down to which QB has the ball in his hands last.
Rodgers owns a career 118 passer rating against Atlanta but that might not be the most worrisome stat for the Falcons. The visting team is 10-1 against the spread in the last 11 games between these two teams, and the Packers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games. Meanwhile, the Falcons are 3-10 in their last 13 games as a home favorite.
The Falcons outscored the Packers 33-32 during the regular season, so even though the total is set at 61.5, the highest total ever offered in the history of the NFL playoffs, shattering the mark of 59.5 set on the Lions-Saints 2012 postseason game, you will still want to strongly consider wagering on the over. Atlanta has gone over in 15 of 17 games and Green Bay has gone over in 12 of 18 games.
Oh and by the way, the Lions and the Saints? They went over.
There are two key injuries that could impact the outcome. Green Bay expects receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) to play, while Atlanta receiver Julio Jones (foot, toe) who left early in last week's win in Seattle, is an uncertain starter.
Pick: The Packers (-4) and the over (61.5)
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