Monday Night Football Predictions: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Odds & Picks
by Alan Matthews - 12/5/2014
It feels weird to say with Green Bay at 9-3 and Atlanta just 5-7, but the Monday night matchup this week is a battle of division leaders (the Falcons may be a half game back of New Orleans by then). Obviously both could use this win in a big way.
The Packers lead Detroit by a game atop the NFC North, and currently Green Bay is No. 2 overall in the NFC behind Arizona (also 9-3), with the tiebreaker between the two based on the Cardinals' better win percentage in the conference because they haven't played the Packers. I absolutely expect Arizona to lose at least twice more, so the Pack likely doesn't have to worry about the Cards. Philly is also 9-3 but loses a head-to-head with Green Bay. The team the Packers need to concern themselves with for that top seed is Seattle (8-4) as the Seahawks own the head-to-head tiebreaker. But if the Pack win out, they are going to be the top seed. They might just do that, closing at Buffalo, at Tampa and vs. Detroit. Green Bay is the +140 NFC favorite at Sportsbook.ag and huge -1000 NFC North favorite.
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When is the last time a team won its division and fired its coach? Not sure, but it's not out of the question for the Falcons if they somehow take the NFC South at 6-10 or something and then get slaughtered in the wild-card round. Mike Smith has made some very puzzling decisions late in games that have cost his team wins. The Falcons close vs. Pittsburgh, at New Orleans and vs. Carolina. That looks like a 6-10 record, presuming a loss here, but I think the Saints win that Week 16 matchup and finish at least 7-9 to win the South. New Orleans is -300 to win the division and the Falcons +250.
Falcons at Packers Betting Story Lines
It's not saying much, but Atlanta is playing its best football of the season in winning three of four. It would be four of five if not for a Smith gaffe in Week 8 in London, a last-second loss to Detroit that never should have happened. The Falcons dominated visiting Arizona 29-18 last week. The Cardinals' Patrick Peterson is considered one of the NFL's top cornerbacks and is the highest-paid one. He was talking smack before the game about how he held Falcons star receiver Julio Jones in check while Peterson was at LSU and Jones at Alabama. Jones treated Peterson like his b**ch on Sunday with 10 catches for a career-high 189 yards and a 32-yard touchdown. What made that even more impressive is that Jones' running mate, Roddy White, missed the game with an injury. The team thinks White will return Monday. The Falcons put up 500 yards on that very good Arizona offense, with Matt Ryan throwing for 361 yards. Stephen Jackson rushed 18 times for 101 yards, his first 100-yard game as a Falcon.
Green Bay improved to 6-0 at home with Sunday's 26-21 win over New England in what many believe was a Super Bowl preview. Aaron Rodgers was again flawless at home, completing 24 of 38 for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He still hasn't thrown a pick at home this year while tossing 20 touchdowns. That's by far the most home TD passes without a pick in a single season in NFL history. His last interception at home came nearly two years ago on Dec. 2, 2012. Rodgers also has six straight home games with at least two passing touchdowns and no interceptions. That is tied with Peyton Manning (2010-12) for the longest such streak in NFL history. Rodgers' home rating is an absurd 134.4 in 2014, and he is now your Sportsbook.ag heavy MVP favorite at -500. Rodgers needs one more three-touchdown, zero-interception game to tie New England's Tom Brady (eight in 2007) for the most in NFL history in a single season. This will be Rodgers' 100th career start.
What makes Green Bay even scarier on offense is that 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie Lacy, is coming on as well. He followed up a 125-yard effort vs. Minnesota with 98 yards on 21 carries against the Pats. And the Packers have the best receiving duo in the NFL this year in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. They each have 10 TD catches. Whom do you stop!?
Atlanta visited Green Bay in Week 14 last year, on an extremely cold day, and lost 22-21. Ryan threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Of slight importance was that Rodgers missed the game due to injury. Matt Flynn started at QB.
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers NFL Week 14 Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Green Bay is a 13-point favorite (+106) with alternate lines of 12.5 (-103), 12 (-110) and 11.5 (-117). The Pack are -620 on the moneyline with the Falcons at +460. The total is 55.5. Atlanta is 5-7 against the spread (1-5 on road) and 5-7 "over/under" (1-5 on road). Green Bay is 7-4-1 ATS (5-0-1 at home) and 9-3 O/U (5-1 at home).
Atlanta is 4-1 ATS in its past five December games. The Falcons are 0-4 ATS in their past four after a win. Green Bay is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home vs. teams with a losing road record. It is 1-7 ATS in its past eight vs. a team with a losing record. The under is 4-1 in Atlanta's past five on the road vs. a team with a winning home record. The under is 4-1 in Green Bay's past five on Monday. The Falcons have covered their past four trips to Green Bay.
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Monday Night Football Picks and Betting Predictions
I don't think there's any question that Green Bay wins. It's at home, the Pack still have plenty of motivation and they have the NFC's best record in December and January regular-season games the past five seasons at 18-6. Ryan has a 14-11 career record in December games. Only two of those games were played in temperatures below 30 degrees, one of which was last year's in Lambeau. It will be in the low 20s at kickoff Monday night with a 10 percent chance of snow.
The Packers' 26 points vs. New England were their fewest at home in 2014. For Atlanta to have any chance, it needs to come out strong. The Packers have outscored their opponents 151-23 in the first half of the last five home games, including 79-0 in the first quarter.
I worry about a letdown here, but the carrot of the NFC's top seed -- plus the Lions should win Sunday to keep pressure on Green Bay in the division -- will keep the Pack focused. They should be able to win by two touchdowns, and I expect the dome Falcons to struggle in the cold. So give the points and go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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