Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Atlanta Falcons -1 & Green Bay Packers -1.5

Falcons

Atlanta is a team that is getting a lot of national publicity with their 3-0 start.  In betting circles, they are just as hot with their 3-0 ATS record.  Yet, the one thing holding me back from playing them straight on the spread this week are some numbers on defense.

Despite the final scores, the Falcons D ranks below average against the run, on third down, and in the red zone.  All of these early numbers must be taken with a grain of salt due to sample size and quality of competition, but I'm going to wait a little bit longer before I completely buy into this team.

Week 3 aside, this Panthers offense certainly is capable of putting up monster numbers.  If they ran the ball down the Falcons throat and hit them a few times on play action, I wouldn't be surprised. I also wouldn't be shocked if they marched down the field and put up a garbage TD for a backdoor cover.

Yet, when capping this game it's impossible to ignore what the Falcons have done on offense this year.  I held out some hope that the Panthers D could make some incremental improvements on defense this year, but so far that appears unlikely even though they have a nice trio of linebackers in the middle.

Matt Ryan is on fire and they rank near the top in drive stats, third down, and red zone.  On top of this, they rank much better than Carolina in starting field position, and special teams.  I think the new coordinators deserve a lot of credit for coming in and improving the little things that cost them so many games last season.

Teasing them down to what is essentially a pick em is a no-brainer.

Packers

Without question, the Packers got robbed.  You gotta give Mike McCarthy a ton of credit for changing up the offensive game plan at halftime and completely taking over the game.  That is what great teams do and I'm surprised that the game was that close to begin with.

The most overlooked aspect of the Packers over the last couple weeks is how dominant their defense has been.  This is the primary reason I like them to get back on track this week against a struggling Saints team.

The one questionable area could be against the run, which is something I expect New Orleans to focus on.  The problem with this approach is the Saints are going to have a tough time staying within one score going into the 2nd half.

At this point, the jury is still out on Drew Brees and the Saints passing attack.  Thus far they've been pretty average.  For most teams, the numbers would be ok, but this offense is not firing like it was last year. I'm not sure if it's one particular thing, but Sean Payton, the O-line, and Brees all deserve some blame here.

One could argue the same thing for the Packers, but let's remember who Green Bay has faced thus far - 49ers, Bears, and Seahawks. Those are three pretty good defenses.  I fully expect the Packers to get back to some of their high-flying ways against a defense that has no idea what they are doing.

I'm not sure if Rodgers and company cover the spread, but I find it hard to believe they lose outright to a team that is in free-fall.

NFL Pick: ATL -1 & GB -1.5.

Denver Broncos -.5 & Green Bay Packers -1.5 

Raiders/Broncos analysis here.

NFL Pick: DEN -.5 & GB -1.5.