Aaron Rodgers

Packers underdogs against the Falcons in NFC Championship game

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The best defense is an unstoppable offense, and Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons simply haven’t been stopped when they are a healthy favorite.

The Falcons are listed as five-point favorites against red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers with an eye-popping 60-point total on the NFL lines for the NFC Championship Game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

It is the sixth time this season the Falcons have given between 3.5 and 6.0 points, and while they are 3-2 straight-up and against the spread in that scenario they scored at least 28 points every time.

While the Falcons have to turn around some negative trends – such as 1-6 SU in their last seven games against the NFC North, according to the OddsShark NFL Database – it’s doubtful any collapse would be attributable to their offense.

The Packers, who are 12-6 SU and 10-7-1 ATS, have relied on Rodgers and his stellar pass protection to shred opposing defenses during their eight-win streak. It seems the only way to contain Rodgers is to blitz him. Although OLB Vic Beasley had 15.5 sacks in the regular season, the Falcons play straight defense more frequently than the NFL average.

It’s possible the Packers could repeat the scenario of recent weeks, with Rodgers getting scads of time to wait for a receiver to get open. That is contingent on the health of those receivers. Leading receiver Jordy Nelson (ribs) is a remote shot to play while Davante Adams (ankle), Geronimo Allison (leg), Jeff Janis (quadriceps) are each banged up.

Both RB Ty Montgomery and TE Jared Cook have become reliable cogs for the Packers since their loss to the Falcons last week. Atlanta does not have an overly strong run defense.

The Falcons, who are 12-5 SU and 11-6 ATS, do have to be concerned with how many snaps WR Julio Jones (toe) will be able to play on Sunday. The true linchpins in Atlanta’s attack, though, are RB Tevin Coleman and RB Devonta Freeman, whose versatility as ball carriers and receivers has to be accounted for at all times.

The Falcons are very physical in the rushing phase and it will be interesting to see whether the Packers are up to it after so many do-or-done games, including last week’s instant classic against Dallas where they gave up 125 yards to the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones, WR Taylor Gabriel and WR Mohamed Sanu are facing a Packers pass defense that has struggled all season. Green Bay was among the NFL leaders in sacks, but the Falcons’ continuity along the offensive line (all five starters have been intact all season) should help them with making adjustments.

The favored team is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in the last three years in conference championship games.  The total has gone over in seven of the last 10 conference championship games.

SNF: Packers field-goal favorite against Lions in NFC North showdown

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Matthew Stafford will have some, but not all of his key pieces back when his Detroit Lions try to stop the bleeding in a potential winner-takes-all matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who are the hottest team in the NFL, are three-point betting favorites against the host Lions with a 49.5-point total for Sunday Night Football, according to sportsbooks monitored by the OddsShark.com.

Detroit has lost three of its last four games to fall into jeopardy of missing the playoffs, but they are 6-0 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread over their last six home games at Ford Field. Green Bay is 18-4 SU in the teams’ last 22 meetings, but interestingly the streaking Packers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games after winning their two most recent road games.

Green Bay is 9-6 SU and 7-7-1 ATS, thanks to a five-game win streak where it has averaged 31 points per game. The Lions have a resilient, if far from stingy defense (15th in the NFL), so the Packers will have to be patient and not make mistakes. Rodgers’ best receiver, Jordy Nelson, will have a tougher matchup if CB Darius Slay (hamstring), who practiced this week, returns from one-game absence.

The Packers also have starting WR Randall Cobb (ankle) potentially hobbled. The Lions have only 25 sacks this season, and if the likes Ziggy Ansah and Kerry Hyder can’t get to Rodgers, Detroit’s pass coverage could get exposed.

The Packers, who have been on a roller coaster ride on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, are 3-1 ATS in their last four games against the Lions. Converted WR Ty Montgomery has given Green Bay a reasonable facsimile of a rushing attack.

Detroit is 9-6 SU and 8-7 ATS, on the margin of Stafford having engineered eight victories in games where his team trailed in the fourth quarter. The Packers, with OLB Clay Matthews and OLB Nick Perry, have a strong pass rush and Detroit will need C Travis Swanson – who is back from missing three games due to a brain injury – to shore up their pass protection.

Green Bay allows a NFL-worst 8.0 yards per pass, and provided time to make his reads Stafford should be able to consistently find WR Marvin Jones, WR Golden Tate and slot WR Anquan Boldin.

Running back Theo Riddick (wrist) has been ruled out, leaving Dwayne Washington to prop up Detroit’s 30th-ranked running game. If the Lions are to win, it will come down to their formula of keeping the game close and counting on Stafford to deliver at the decisive stage.

The total has gone OVER in three of the Packers’ last four games against the Lions heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup. The loser will back into a wild-card berth if the Washington Redskins lose against the New York Giants, but the Giants are locked into their playoff position and have the luxury of resting key players.

Sunday Night Football: Redskins have edge on betting lines vs. Packers

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Something will have to give in the Sunday Night Football matchup, seeing how the Green Bay Packers have a terrible record as an underdog and the Washington Redskins are not much better as the favorite.

Kirk Cousins and Washington are listed as the 3-point favorite against the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers with a 50.5 total, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Washington is only 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 games as a favorite but Green Bay is an even more dismal 3-15 straight-up in their last 18 outings as the underdog, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Packers are 4-5 SU and 3-5-1 ATS this season, as both their rushing game and ability to complete deep passes has been limited even though they haven’t faced premier defenses. Green Bay has RB James Starks back in the lineup and picked up RB Christine Michael, so there is a chance they could take advantage of Washington’s 23rd-ranked run defense.

The prospects for WR Jordy Nelson largely hinge on whether the Packers can keep him away from CB Josh Norman and get him lined up more frequently against CB Kendall Fuller.

Green Bay is 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine games against Washington, including a wild-card playoff win last season. However, both teams seem to have changed vastly over the last 12 months or so.

The Redskins, who are 5-3-1 SU and 6-3 ATS, have a top-10 offense which will be facing a major test. Washington allowed six sacks during the 2015 playoff loss against Green Bay, but the protection in front of Kirk Cousins has been strong (12 sacks allowed in nine games) in spite of facing a strong schedule.

The Packers are allowing 8.2 yards per pass, so provided that WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is good to go, there should be some room for slot WR Jamison Crowder and TE Jordan Reed to operate.

The Packers are fourth in the NFL in run defense. Washington might have to sacrifice some big-play potential and count on RB Rob Kelley to simply grind out tough yards and keep the Packers defense on the field.