Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has a 4-1 ATS road record in playoff revenge games, outscoring his opponents 31-30
Sunday’s NFC Conference Final between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons is loaded with offensive talent, veteran superstars and some big name coaches and coordinators. The Over/Under odds resemble a short-fused box of TNT and yet somehow, it still has all the elements of a high stakes chess match. Offense is all but guaranteed but the most important move could end up belonging to the defense that figures out how to diffuse an opponent with the tenacity of a Terminator.
Home field advantage for a Falcons team that has played nine-straight overs at the Georgia Dome looms large against the Packers weakened secondary. Green Bay has played the entire season without Sam Shields in the backfield and after injuring his quad in Dallas, safety Morgan Burnett’s status is in question.
We all saw Julio Jones favoring the toe that caused him to miss Week’s 14-15, but Matt Ryan’s arsenal right now is arguably the deepest in the NFL. They not only won the two games Jones missed, they scored more than 40 points in each one. Jones was also limited in the 33-32 win over Green Bay in Week 8. He made just three receptions for 29 yards and has yet to crack triple-digits in three games since returning to the lineup full-time. Regardless, he will play Sunday and if nothing more, it will draw a lot of attention.
The Falcons defense was just as miserable as Green Bay’s all season and the biggest difference this week is they are going against a legitimate O-Line that’s protecting an elite passer. Atlanta had three sacks against Seattle and kept Russell Wilson under constant pressure. It made the Falcons pass rush seem as if they had spent the bye week at some advanced sack clinic led by Bruce Smith and Reggie White in their prime. Against a line that can help extend plays like no other, I think reality is about to set it.
The Falcons play a disciplined brand of football, averaging just 50.5 penalty yards (PENY) per game (5th), and that suits HC Mike McCarthy just fine. In road games against disciplined teams, McCarthy has a 60% ATS record all-time and when it’s against close competition, that record improves to 67% ATS (33-16).
What’s more is that McCarthy’s record gets better as the season goes on. The Packers took the third-fewest PENY this year at 48.3 and since 2010, McCarthy has not averaged more than 55 PENY per game. His overall average in that span is 47.3, third fewest overall. From December out, facing another well disciplined team on the road, Green Bay is 17-4 ATS as a small fave or dog of any number. Their recent record is 7-1 ATS and Green Bay was a dog in five of those eight games, going 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS. Note that six of those eight games also went over, averaging 56 total points scored.
McCarthy’s overall record in revenge games is 63% ATS, including a 13-3 ATS run since 2014. On the road with revenge, McCarthy is 20-17 ATS including five-straight covers when avenging a same-season loss. In the playoffs with same-season revenge he is 4-1 ATS and 4-1 O/U, outscoring his opponents 31-30 on average.
NFC PLAYOFF PREDICTION: PACKERS, FALCONS
McCarthy’s road record against high octane offenses also improves as the season goes on and from December out, he’s 7-3 ATS and 7-3 O/U. Atlanta has gained 400 or more yards in four consecutive games and they boast a +48.4 average of total yards for/against on the season, 4th overall. Green Bay is only +5.8 on the season (16th) but playoff road dogs in similar scenarios are 6-1 ATS when getting more than a field goal. Aaron Rodgers’ record indoors with a total greater than 50 is 6-4 ATS with 6 overs and 4 unders. That includes three covers this year in Atlanta, Detroit and Dallas where Green Bay scored 30-plus points each time. It seems likely they’ll finish in the same ballpark Sunday and I’ve already bet this game “Over” 59.5 at -120. For a side, I’m taking the points as my top pick.