The Atlanta Falcons would be out of the playoff picture in any other division, but residing in the NFC South has provided them with a clear path to the postseason. That doesn’t equate to an easy road for the Falcons, who face a daunting obstacle Sunday when they visit Aaron Rodgers and the red-hot Green Bay Packers. Atlanta is tied for first in the NFC South while Green Bay leads the NFC North and is unbeaten (6-0) at home.
Last week’s 29-18 over Arizona – the Falcons’ first against a team with a winning record – actually was a boost for the Packers, who are among three 9-3 teams fighting for the top overall seed in the conference. Green Bay prevailed in a high-profile matchup last week, snapping New England’s seven-game winning streak for its fourth victory in a row and eighth in nine games. “We have some big goals, and we know what we have in front of us, we have a four-game stretch here,” Packers top wideout Jordy Nelson said. “We can’t let up at all and we need to make sure we take care of business.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Packers as 11.5-point favorites, but action has moved that to -13. The total opened at 56 and is down a half-point.
INJURY REPORT: Falcons – G Justin Blalock (Probable, back), WR Harry Douglas (Probable, foot), WR Roddy White (Questionable, ankle), DT Paul Soliai (Questionable, personal). Packers – CB Sam Shields (Questionable, concussion), LB Jamari Lattimore (Questionable, ankle).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Falcons (+2.75) + Packers (-6.0) + home field (-3.0) = Packers -11.75
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low-30s and wind blowing across the field at 6 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Falcons looked like the Falcons of old against Arizona and they need to keep that going heading to Green Bay Monday night. Atlanta is 0-4 ATS in its last four after a win. The Pack are 1-7 ATS in their last eight vs. losing teams.” Covers Expert Matt Fargo.
CHEERLEADER WAR: The Packers don’t have cheerleaders, so here’s a double-dose of some members from the Falcons’ squad.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (5-7SU, 5-7 ATS, 5-7 O/U): An injury-ravaged offensive line has contributed to the offensive inconsistency for Atlanta, but Matt Ryan is coming off his highest output since Week 1 with a 361-yard, two-TD performance in last week’s win over Arizona. Julio Jones had a monster performance with 10 catches for 189 yards and has scored a TD in consecutive games, but fellow wideout Roddy White missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury and did not practice Friday, although coach Mike Smith said he expected the veteran to play. Running back Steven Jackson has failed to crack 60 yards in 10 of 12 games but went over 100 yards for the first time last week. The Falcons rank last with 403.2 yards allowed, but they have permitted an average of 19 points during the current 3-1 streak.
ABOUT THE PACKERS (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS, 9-3 O/U): Green Bay has been a juggernaut on its home field, averaging nearly 44 points prior to behind held to 26 by the Patriots despite rolling up 478 total yards. Rodgers is coming off his sixth 300-yard game and has 32 touchdowns versus only three interceptions while posting numbers at Lambeau Field that are off the charts – 20 TDs and zero picks this season to extend his NFL records of 32 scoring passes and 366 attempts without being intercepted at home. Nelson and Randall Cobb are the first tandem in franchise history with at least 10 TD passes in a season while running back Eddie Lacy has rushed for 223 yards on 46 carries the past two weeks. A defense that has held eight of its last 10 opponents to 21 points or fewer could be without cornerback Sam Shields (concussion).
* Falcons are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings in Green Bay.
* Under is 5-1 in Falcons last six vs. NFC.
* Over is 6-1 in Packers last seven vs. NFC.
* Packers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 67 percent of bettors are backing the Packers.