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Signs Pointing To A Falcons Win
In The NFC Championship Game.

(live blog from the Georgia Dome)
from - Click Here

 By Don Stone - Football Atlanta

   If you look for signs to determine outcome, the you would be very happy with all of the indicators that point to an Atlanta win in this NFC Championship Game.
  1. The way the season ended - There were many things that had to happen for the Falcons to get a first round bye and host a playoff game. After the last second loss to Kansas City, Tampa Bay was in a virtual tie with Atlanta. Atlanta never lost after that. But, they needed the Bucs to falter to control the division. The Bucs beat the Chargers and Saints, then fell apart with losses at Dallas and New Orleans. Atlanta kept winning. On Christmas Eve, they needed three things to happen. First, they won at Carolina clinching the NFC South title. They needed Tampa Bay to lose at New Orleans immediately after and they did. Then, they needed the improbable to happen. Arizona had to beat the Seahawks in Seattle to move Atlanta into the #2 seed. The Cardinals won letting the Falcons have a first round bye and host the Division Round of the playoffs.
  Ironically, they got the Seahawks, whom they had lost to earlier in the season. Then, two things had to happen for Atlanta to stay at home and host the NFC Championship Game. First, of course, they had to beat Seattle. And they did in convincing fashion, 36-20, and it wasn't that close. But, even then, they were expecting to go on the road to face Dallas, who was the favorite to beat Green Bay. But, that happened as well. On a last second miracle finish, the Packers knocked off the Cowboys moving the game to Atlanta instead. And, here they sit.
  2. Injuries. Of course, the Falcons have some key players out. They lost Desmond Trufant and Jacob Tamme earlier in the season and didn't seem to miss a beat. They lost Adrian Clayborn in last week's playoff win. Julio Jones is still working through the toe problem but seems to be alright to play. Green Bay is another story. They look like a M.A.S.H. unit coming into the game. Receivers Jordy Nelson suffered broken ribs in the first round of the playoffs with the Giants and missed last week's game at Dallas. He also had a virus that caused him to stay home Friday. He reportedly will try to play wearing a military flak jacket. But how effective he will be, if he plays at all, remains to be seen. Davante Adams hurt his ankle and Geronimo Allison pulled a hamstring at Dallas. Both are listed as questionable game time decisions. Former Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett pulled a thigh muscle at Dallas but supposedly will be available. All four remained questionable after practice Saturday, which means they have a 1 percent to 50 percent chance of playing. Running back Christine Michael was questionable with a back injury after Saturday's practice. But, the pregame inactive list had none of them on it. So, apparently, they will try to play. If they can't, the team will be shorthanded.
  The Green Bay secondary is already a liability ranked 26th in the league. And Matt Ryan lit them up for three touchdowns and nearly 400 yards in the teams' previous meeting this season. The have been decimated by injuries more than any other secondary this season. No. cornerback Sam Shields missed most of the season with No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall struggling all year with nagging injuries. So, all of that could be a key factor or much ado about nothing.
  3. Travel and Fatigue. No one could fault the Packers if they are tired. With an early season bye week, they have now played for thirteen straight weeks. After the home game against New York, they had to travel least week to Dallas for a Sunday game, go back to Green Bay, then fly to Atlanta. All that time, the Falcons have been home with this their third straight home game with a bye week mixed in. To top it off, the weather in Green Bay grounded all flights on Saturday. So, following a morning practice, the Packers took a bus to the airport, sat for two hours, then got on another bus for a two hour ride to Milwaukee, getting them into Atlanta at 8:00pm for a long day. Add to that the fact that a virus was going around the Packers' camp late in the week. No word on who was affected besides Nelson and Rodgers. But, something like that could have some effect as the game goes on with loss of energy.
  4. Overblown praise of Rodgers. Everyone, rightfully so, heaped praise on Aaron Rodgers when he got the ball back with 35 seconds to go and, on a third and 20, avoided overtime with a perfect pass to get his team into game winning field goal range. But, nowhere, have I heard any mention of the fact that Green Bay squandered a 21 point lead and were outscored after that by Dallas 28-13 as they barely hung on to win. The fact is, the Cowboys would have won if they had been more aggressive on offense early on and had no dug themselves too deep a hole to crawl out of.
  5. The Quinn-Rodgers connection. Dan Quinn had put his defense on the field three times prior to this game and it didn't go well for Green Bay. The Packers lost to the Falcons in Week 8 of the regular season. Previously, in 2013 and 2014, Quinn was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks and beat Rodgers both times.
  So, on the surface at least, the Falcons potent offense seems to be too much for the Packer defense to keep up with. But it still should be a shootout. The Vegas odds predicted a point total of 61. Even that could be conservative. I see it as something like Atlanta 40, Green Bay 32. Anything could happen with turnovers possibly being a key factor. If the Falcons do pull it off and head to their second Super Bowl, the town will go bonkers.

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