Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, November 27th, 2010 at 1:00 PM EST
Line: Atlanta -2
Not too long ago, experts questioned whether or not the NFC had any elite teams in the entire conference. It seems now that the NFC could make a case as being the superior conference. Two teams that have a legitimate shot at making a Super Bowl run are featured in this matchup. The team with the best record in the NFC, the 8-2 Atlanta Falcons, are undefeated at home this season.
Their competition will be stiff this week, as they take on the 7-3 Green Bay Packers. The Packers have won in impression fashion the last three weeks, shutting out the Jets in the Meadowlands and winning by an average of 33 points in their other two games. The Falcons and Packers are both rolling, but the winner of this game will probably become the Vegas favorite as the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.
Keys to the Game:
- The Packers have to have an answer for Roddy White. White is on pace for a ridiculous 1627 yard season. White has already broken out for five 100 yard games this season. Charles Woodson is a fantastic corner, but covering White is a tall task for any cornerback to take on. White is 6’0 tall, but he plays like he is 6’5. He is one of the best possession receivers in the league and the Packers can’t give Matt Ryan time to allow plays to develop. Luckily for Green Bay, they have the best outside pass rusher in the NFL.
- Clay Matthews looks like he has defensive player wrapped up. He is leading the league in sacks this year with 11.5. Matthews is versatile and alternates between the left and right side on defense, making him difficult to game plan against. He is one of those players that alters the thinking of offenses. Ryan may find himself letting the ball go just a bit quicker with Matthews lurking on the edge.
- Sam Baker is a fantastic left tackle, but the Falcons should not be foolish enough to think they are going to be able to block him 1 on 1. They are going to have to leave Tony Gonzalez or Michael Turner in to help with protection, which takes away from their versatility. Just as Roddy White can take over a game, so can Clay Matthews. It is imperative that both teams devote multiple players to neutralizing their impact.
- The Packers are +8 in turnover margin this season and the Falcons are +10. There are certain stats that I see as being overrated, but the turnover battle is certainly not one of them. Both teams have excelled in large part because of their ability to capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes. While both defenses are excellent at forcing turnovers, both quarterbacks have been playing lights out over their last three games and turnovers won’t come easy.
- Michael Turner is quietly having an outstanding year. Turner has run for 100 yards or more in half of his games this season. Green Bay isn’t weak against the run, but they still allow 112.1 yards a game. While the Falcons will obviously look to take care of Roddy White first and foremost, they won’t survive the Michael Turner onslaught, should they choose to think of the Atlanta run game as a lesser priority.
Matt Ryan Vs. Aaron Rodgers
- Matt Ryan has an 18 touchdown to five interception ratio. In his last three games, he has six touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan has utilized White out wide, but he also gets the ball to Tony Gonzalez and sells the play action just as well as any quarterback in the league. The Falcons have a complete offense and having Ryan at the helm limits mistakes, but gives Atlanta big play potential.
- Aaron Rodgers has been up against it this season. The season crushing injuries to Green Bay on offense give the quarterback many reasons to fail. Rodgers works with the talent he still has in his wide receiver corp. With an unspectacular running back tandem in John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson, teams know Rodgers is going to throw the ball, yet the Packers passing game has managed to excel. Rodgers was having a turnover problem earlier in the season, but in the past two games, he has 7 touchdowns against 0 interceptions.
This is clearly the matchup of the week. I can’t take anything away from either one of these teams, which makes it difficult to decide who will cover. The Packers are going to put up a fight, but I’m taking the Falcons because they are at home.
It’s going to be a tight game, but I think Atlanta should come away with a four point victory. They have won every single home game and other than one two point victory over the 49ers, they have won by five or more in every single home outing.
Free NFL Pick: Atlanta -2