Green Bay Express Welcomes Floundering Falcons
What has happened to the Atlanta Falcons the last couple of weeks has been bizarre, and there is almost no way to explain it, other than to say that they just keep thinking of creative ways to lose ballgames. Conversely, BetOnline customers have noticed that it’s been very clear how the Green Bay Packers are winning – by racking up numbers like a pinball machine.
That is the dynamic as we move forward with Monday Night Football, which takes place at Lambeau Field this week. The Packers will play host to the Falcons in a game that begins at 8:50 PM ET. Note the time change, since the contest between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs will kick off at 7 PM ET.
The stumbling, fumbling Falcons
It is almost inexplicable that the Falcons could lose a game like they did against Dallas a couple of weeks ago, as the Cowboys came back from a 20-0 first quarter deficit. With five minutes left, Dallas was down by 16 points, but they rallied with the help of a generous Atlanta secondary and a special teams unit that apparently didn’t know the rules.
The Cowboys attempted an onside kick with time winding down, and the Falcons just watched it roll, waiting for it to go ten yards. Evidently no one told them that they didn’t have to; that they could have just fallen on the ball and taken over on offense. So Dallas recovered and kicked a winning field goal.
Special teams coaches typically get fired for something like that. But Ben Kotwica did not get the ax, or even the ax handle. The guy who really has to be dangling right now is head coach Dan Quinn, who may have saved his job with a 6-2 finish down the stretch last season. But fans still remember a meltdown in the Super Bowl after the Falcons led New England 28-3. That lingers.
Here are the Monday Night Football odds, from BetOnline…
|Falcons||+6 (-110)||56 (-110)||+234|
|Packers||-6 (-110)||56 (-110)||-285|
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Matt LaFleur and the Green Bay offense
Yes, we know it’s early. But the Packers are averaging 40.7 points per game. And it would appear that the Aaron Rodgers-Matt LaFleur marriage is a success. It didn’t always look that way. Rodgers, who has great improvisational skills, was not comfortable at first in an offense that required him to be a little more deliberate. But of course he adapted. He was intercepted only four times in 569 attempts last season, with Green Bay reaching the NFC title game.
In 2020 things may have started a little rocky. Rodgers may have expected that Packer management might get him another receiver to work with. Instead, in the first round they drafted another quarterback – Jordan Love of Utah State. But Rodgers is a pro; he’s gone about his business. And he’s thrown nine TD passes without an interception.
There is balance here too; something that wasn’t always there in the past. Aaron Jones is emerging as a premier back, averaging 101 yards a game and six yards a carry. This is what makes the play-action work so well.
There are few quarterbacks (aside from Rodgers) who are able to go up and down the field the way Matt Ryan can. The problem is getting into the end zone enough to overcome what the defense (and special teams) can’t accomplish.
We can’t exactly trust the Falcons and their end game. But we also know that the Green Bay defense is still something of a work in progress. Todd Gurley might be able to keep that Packer defensive front honest. Julio Jones is expected to play (hamstring). Calvin Ridley is worthy of #1 status.
What we’re saying is that there are a lot of reasons this game could go OVER the total.
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