A huge night in the NFL as the Conference Finals take place. Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) picks out the best bets for us.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons | Sunday 20:05 | Sky Sports 1
I have tried desperately hard to write about this game with the head and not the heart. Cards on the table, I really hope Green Bay wins this game.
Not just because I have a man crush on the brilliant Aaron Rodgers but also because when the Packers season was nearly over and Rodgers promised to run the table, I believed him and backed Green Bay to win the whole thing. Do I think they will get past Atlanta on Sunday? Maybe.
One of the greats
If you are reading this, unless you are Chris or Mark proofing it, then you must have watched one of THE great playoff games of all time last Sunday night as Rodgers pulled off a stunning last gasp 34-31 win on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.
As at least one person said to me this week “I was on my feet for the last 15 minutes”. A truly astonishing performance as Green Bay won its 8th successive game since Rodgers promise to the Cheeseheads.
Sorry to babble on about Green Bay. They are after all facing that other great offence of the 2016 season, the Atlanta Falcons. What an incredible season Matt Ryan and his team are having and what an incredible way to mark the last ever game in the Georgia Dome. Hosting the NFC Championship.
Ryan has been really special this year. He's not only managed to put himself at the head of the queue in the race for the seasons MVP but amongst the many records set in Atlanta this year, throwing touchdowns to 13 different receivers is the one that tells you everything about this team.
Number 2 has been lucky enough to play behind the only offensive line in football that has started the same five players in every single game. That line was one of the keys as Atlanta overcame Seattle 36-20 last Saturday night.
Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator and the next head coach of the 49ers (probably) has created a powerful, fluid attacking unit that plays to Ryan's strengths and uses its dual running back threat of Freeman and Coleman to maximum effect. Not just when carrying the ball but in how physical they can be on linebackers and defensive backs on passing plays.
The whole world is expecting a shoot out in the Dome. I'm no different. In the last five games these teams are scoring at will. The Packers coming away with an average 35 points per game. Atlanta going even better than that putting an average 38 points per game on the board.
In terms of a banker bet, it simply has to be over 60 points. We can go back to the last time these two met. Week 8 and a 33-32 win for Atlanta. The Falcons home games have been 9-0 on overs, Green Bay's road games have been over the points total seven times out of nine. This game just must go the same way.
That points total is also backed up by defensive statistics as well as on the ther side of the ball. A banged up Packers defence ranked 31 of 32 against the pass, whilst Atlanta 28th weren't much better. In fact, it may be the defences that actually decide this game.
One stop at the right time could swing the result either way in a game that I honestly cannot call. I'm so so tempted by the handicap in this game.
Green Bay +6 seems like a really sound play, especially as the last three games between these two have been decided by a grand total of eight points. No, I am going to stay with this being a shootout and pray that somehow, the Green Bay quarterback pulls off another miracle.
Just one player line stands out in a game that the oddsmakers seem to have well covered and that concerns the man who was the other part of the miracle catch at the death in Dallas, Jared Cook.
The Packers tight end is a bit of a beast physically and apart from Jordy Nelson is Rodgers go to guy, especially in pressure situations. He's clutch as the Americans like to say.
Cook had six catches for 103 yards including the 35 yarder that effectively got them to this game. In his last five games, Cook has caught 24 passes for 329 yards but Paddy Power have his line chalked up at just 53.5 yards. Only thing I can say about that is thanks.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons – Over 60.5 Points (19/20 Coral)
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons – Jared Cook Over 53.5 Receiving Yards (5/6 Paddy Power)