The NFC Championship Game between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers is a battle between two elite NFL quarterbacks.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is trying to build his legacy with an appearance in his first Super Bowl, while Aaron Rodgers is eying a chance for his second Super Bowl ring.
As always, NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian are here to make their picks against the spread.
Here’s what they have for Falcons vs. Packers.
Green Bay Packers at (-4.5) Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET
Mike: Packers. There’s a reason the over/under for this game (60) is higher than any playoff game in NFL history. Both teams feature high-powered offenses, and their defenses are questionable. I can’t help but go back to the Week 8 matchup and look at that Green Bay lineup compared to this one. What do Jared Cook, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery have in common? None of them played in that game, and they should all be good to go this weekend. And, yes, I know the Falcons didn’t have Tevin Coleman in that game … but they did have Adrian Clayborne (who had two sacks) and Desmond Trufant. Neither will play in this game.
And while the Falcons’ pass rush looked good last week against Seattle, the Seahawks’ offensive line pales in comparison to Green Bay’s, one of the best pass-protection units in the NFL. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers. In what should be a shootout with the team holding the ball last winning — just like in Week 8 — I’ll take the points.
Andre: Packers. Aaron Rodgers is the hottest player in football with 24 touchdowns and just one interception in the Packers’ last nine games. I don’t care what type of pass rush he goes up against, Rodgers is unstoppable right now. He showed against the Dallas Cowboys that no matter what type of pressure is in his face, he can escape and make plays. Also, Rodgers likely will shed a tear when the Georgia Dome closes down following Sunday’s game, because he practically owns the building. In four career games there, Rodgers has a 73.6 completion percentage, 10 touchdowns and one interception (the pick came way back in 2008).
On the defensive side, the Packers have been on fire. During their eight-game winning streak, the Packers have a plus-16 turnover differential, 20 sacks (fourth-most) and a league-best 12 interceptions. Sure, Matt Ryan will put up points, but I’ll take the hotter quarterback and the slightly better defense outright.
Ricky: Packers. I picked against Aaron Rodgers last week. I’m not making that mistake again. Green Bay’s offensive line should hold up against Atlanta’s pass rush and minimize Vic Beasley’s impact. That, in turn, will make life extremely difficult for the Falcons’ secondary.
This game could come down to which defense can finagle its way off the field, and the Packers’ offense owns the second-best third-down conversion percentage in the NFL, which bodes well for Green Bay’s attempt to control the clock.
Thumbnail photo via Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports Images