NFL Picks: Falcons vs. Packers

Jason Lake

Sunday, December 8, 2013 8:46 PM GMT

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 8:46 PM GMT

Sunday’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers has been circled on the NFL betting lines. Will Aaron Rodgers play for the Packers? Can Green Bay win if he doesn’t?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 2 inclusive:

33-27-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

7-12-1 Totals

Was it Thanksgiving Day, or Groundhog Day? Unfortunately for Matt Flynn, it was the former. Flynn got the start for the Green Bay Packers last Thursday against the Detroit Lions, two years (and three teams) since he made his last NFL start – against the Detroit Lions. That was the Week 17 game where Flynn threw six touchdown passes to set the Packers single-game record. The sequel didn’t turn out so well: 10-of-20 for 139 yards, zero TDs, one pick and seven sacks. Detroit won 40-10 as a 7-point home fave.

Thursday’s defeat leaves Green Bay at 5-6-1 SU and 5-7 ATS, two games behind the Lions in the win column for first place in the NFC North. As we go to press, the Packers are evaluating Aaron Rodgers to see if his broken collarbone has healed enough for him to get the start this Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS). The NFL odds are waiting with bated breath for that news, along with every Cheesehead in America and beyond.

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Mr. Flynn’s Neighborhood

The latest news hot off the Twitter: Rodgers has yet to be medically cleared, but is scheduled to practice on Wednesday in limited fashion. Flynn will get the first-team reps; Scott Tolzien (66.8 passer rating) will not be elevated above Flynn, which is probably a good thing for Packers supporters. Green Bay was 0-2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS in Tolzien’s three appearances. You should have more clarification available by the time you read this.

Whoever lines up under center had better keep on his toes. Green Bay’s offensive line has been torn to pieces this year; center Evan Dietrich-Smith joined the wounded on Thursday when he was knocked out of the game with a knee injury, and his status for Week 14 is also uncertain. This on a line that’s already missing LT Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL), leaving any Packers QB highly vulnerable down the middle.

A Holly Jolly Christmas

While everyone’s focussed on Rodgers, the Packers defense is finally back at full strength for the most part. Several key players have been injured for long stretches of the season, dropping Green Bay to No. 30 on the freshly updated defensive efficiency charts (No. 30 pass, No. 26 rush) at Football Outsiders. DT Johnny Jolly, CB Sam Shields and LB Nick Perry all played against Detroit; LB Brad Jones could rejoin them on Sunday.

That just might be enough to get the job done against the Falcons. They managed to break their five-game losing streak against the Buffalo Bills, winning 34-31 in overtime and cashing in as 5-point underdogs in Toronto. But Atlanta remains well out of the playoff picture, saddled with the No. 31-ranked defense in the NFL (No. 31 pass, No. 27 rush) and preparing for what could be a Winter Classic on the legendary you-know-what of Lambeau Field.

OVERjoyed

This could turn into a great situation for picking the OVER on the Week 14 NFL lines. The extended forecast for Sunday’s matchup (1:00 pm. ET, FOX) calls for temperatures around 15 degrees Fahrenheit, with a 20 percent chance of snow and very little breeze. Provided it doesn’t snow too much, these conditions favor the OVER on the NFL betting market, which is prone to jumping too hard on the UNDER when things get really frickin’ cold.

As always, everything depends on the football lines and how they shake out. But I’ll recommend the OVER in this situation. It’s 6-2 in Green Bay’s last eight December games at home, and Flynn might be enough to make it 7-2 against that awful Atlanta defense.

NFL Pick: Take the OVER

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