Well, yes, of course. Although we still have over 48 hours until kickoff (as of the time of this post going live), those hours will be chock-full of speculation and analysis as we and every other football fan and writer try to figure out what will happen on Sunday.
APC’s consensus is this: the Packers will get back to the big one for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLV after the 2010 season. However, this pick is hardly unanimous, and there is plenty of trepidation even among the APC writers who did pick the Packers to win.
So without further ado, here are our predictions for Sunday’s game, with several full explanations, and also our picks for the AFC Championship on Sunday evening.
2017 Championship Game Picks
|Author||GB @ ATL||GB-ATL Score||PIT @ NE|
|Author||GB @ ATL||GB-ATL Score||PIT @ NE|
|Mike V||GB||44-38 OT||NE|
|CONSENSUS||GB (9-3)||36-34||NE (9-3)|
Evan “Tex” Western
Packers defeat Falcons 30-27
Everyone seems to think that it’s a foregone conclusion that they should take the over on the historically high 61-point line set by Vegas. I for one have a hunch that this game will actually be under that total for two specific reasons that both favor the Packers.
The first is the Falcons’ abysmal defense against running backs. Atlanta ranks 29th in DVOA against the run and 26th against running backs in the passing game. Because of this matchup and the injuries plaguing the Packers’ receivers, I see Mike McCarthy using the running game much more this week than he did a week ago in Dallas. This has the effect of slowing down the game and making for longer drives for the Packers’ offense. With the running game established, Aaron Rodgers can use play-action to his heart’s content and hit a couple of big plays in the passing game to his banged-up receiving corps.
Granted, Atlanta can score quickly, and that brings me to my second matchup - the Packers’ pass rush against Atlanta’s offensive line. Football Outsiders has them ranked 23rd in the NFL in adjusted sack rate, while their right guard, Chris Chester, has allowed the most pressures of any guard in the NFL this season. Guess who Chester will see throughout much of the game: Mike Daniels. That’s a matchup that the Packers must, and I believe will, win consistently. I believe they will force Matt Ryan into a handful of unwise throws, giving the secondary a chance.
Jason B. Hirschhorn
Falcons defeat Packers 38-28
The Packers remain the hottest team in the NFL, but their efforts to run the table have come at a significant cost. Jordy Nelson almost certainly will spend Sunday afternoon in street clothes on the sidelines while Davante Adams, if he plays, will take the field with a bad ankle. A red-hot Aaron Rodgers helped Green Bay survive the absence of one of those weapons during the divisional round and most of the wild-card round, but even the best quarterback in the league has limits.
Packers defeat Falcons 42-38
Green Bay has been great this year when facing a team for the second time. The first game with Atlanta was a one point victory for Atlanta on a last second play. That game, the Packers were without Clay Matthews, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery and Jared Cook. Sure, the Packers are resting Davante Adams hoping to get him fully recovered, but the Falcons are doing a similar thing with Julio Jones. This is the most explosive offense the Packers have faced, but it is also the worst defense they will face in the playoffs (possibly the worst defense to make the playoffs). I see the Packers being able to answer every point the Falcons put up. In just about every second meeting, the Packers scored more points… and also gave up more. I think the Packers just do more scoring, and the defense makes one key stop.
Packers defeat Falcons 44-38 in OT
With all the pain the Packers have endured in overtime in the playoffs for the past few years, redemption is at hand. The Packers defense will give up some yards to Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones will have a score or two but the defense will hold when it counts. It seems that the Packers may lose another weapon in Davante Adams but, this year, Aaron Rodgers and company seem to find someone to fill in admirably each week. It’d be fun to see Geronimo Allison get the game winning touchdown in OT to send the Packers to the Super Bowl.
Falcons defeat Packers 52-45
Yes that is a high score, not I do not think it is ludicrous. It is almost the exact score of the 2009 Green Bay-Arizona playoff game that featured two great offenses and no defense to speak of, plus one additional PAT. The Packers have no ability to stop a team that was by far the best offense in football this year, and the Falcons are only marginally better on defense. At home, with the Packers banged up, I think Atlanta wins a fun shootout. If Adams can’t go, this could also be much uglier.
Packers defeat Falcons 38-31
Last week, I thought that the loss of Jordy Nelson would haunt Green Bay, but the rest of the receiving core picked up the slack. This week, Nelson will be out and Davante Adams will be playing hurt
Enough. Who cares. Throw the script out the window. Aaron Rodgers is a wizard, Mason Crosby is Mason Clutchby, and Jared Cook was our missing puzzle piece, the yin to our yang, the beer to our bratwurst (who, along with Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb, missed the regular season contest against Atlanta). I wouldn’t be surprised if each team touches 50 in this game, because apparently matching up an undrafted free agent against the 24th overall pick in 2010, and now the 6th overall pick in 2011, is Dom Capers’ idea of a good time. So please, strap in, buckle up, and do NOT play a drinking game with this matchup; you’ll end up with a higher BAC than Michael Floyd.