John Bazemore/Associated Press
Best home line: Atlanta -4
Best away line: Green Bay +5.5
Let’s break this game down position by position.
Quarterback: You can take whatever stance you want on the MVP race this season in the NFL, but Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is likely the more talented passer, even if the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan leads a more explosive passing offense. Rodgers has thrown 24 passing touchdowns and just one interception since Week 10 of the regular season.
Running back: Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery, a converted receiver, is the story of these two backfields, but the Packers are thin behind him, with just Christine Michael, who looks like he’s desperately trying to show the coaching staff something every time he touches the ball, and Aaron Ripkowski, a fullback, behind him. Montgomery also struggles with pass protection.
On the other team, Atlanta has a two-headed monster of starting-caliber running backs in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Edge: Atlanta.
Receivers: The Falcons have the flexibility to run three tight end formations, plus they have Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu as wideouts. Green Bay might have to enter this game with three receivers in Randall Cobb, a slot receiver by definition, Trevor Davis, a Day 3 rookie selection, and Jeff Janis, who had 11 receptions for 93 yards this season.
Offensive line: This is about a split, with the Packers getting the nod for their bookend combo, as David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga might be the best pair in the world, but Atlanta gets the crown for their interior offensive line.
Front seven: It’s possible that Green Bay hasn’t had a career season from anyone in its front seven other than Nick Perry, an outside linebacker. On the other hand, despite losing both Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby in the pass-rushing unit, the Falcons are incredibly fast and young, with Vic Beasley, the NFL’s leading sack artist, leading the way for everyone.
Secondary: Green Bay’s cornerbacks are Damarious Randall, who has had a sophomore slump, Ladarius Gunter, who went undrafted because of his 40-yard dash time, Quinten Rollins, who played four years of basketball before converting to football at Miami University, Ohio, Herb Waters, who is just converting from receiver cornerback as an undrafted free agent, and something called a Josh Hawkins.
Quarterback is the only position you can claim that the Packers have an edge in. Atlanta. Big.
The pick: Atlanta -4