The second “Sunday Night Football” game of the 2017 NFL season is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game. The Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers as both teams enter Week 2 at 1-0.

The latest betting odds favor the Falcons at home, who are giving the Packers three points, via OddsShark. Here is a closer look at the Week 2 game, as well as a prediction against the spread:

Why the Packers could cover the spread

If you plan on using the conference title game as a reference point for this contest, don’t waste your time. Atlanta won 44-21 on their way toward what should have been their first Super Bowl championship. The Falcons and Matt Ryan had historic offensive seasons that won’t be repeated in 2017.

Ryan should put up good numbers against the Packers, but they won’t match the 392 yards, four touchdowns and 139.4 passer rating he posted when he last saw Green Bay. Atlanta’s offense isn’t quite the same without former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and they’ll be facing a Packers defense that looks to be improved, at least after one game.

Russell Wilson had no time to throw in Green Bay’s 17-9 Week 1 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. A lot of that has to do with Seattle’s weak offensive line, but the Packers deserve credit for getting to the quarterback. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels and linebacker Nick Perry both had 1.5 sacks. Getting pressure on Ryan could help cover up issues in the secondary.

Aaron Rodgers Packers Falcons Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass in the second half against De'Vondre Campbell of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on Jan. 22, 2017 in Atlanta. Photo: Getty Images

But the Packers won’t beat the Falcons in a defensive battle. If they win, it’s going to be because they have one of the best quarterbacks that’s ever played in the NFL. Considering the defense he faced in Week 1, Rodgers was terrific with 311 yards on 28-of-42 passing against Seattle, his first-quarter interception notwithstanding.

Ty Montgomery ran just three times for 17 yards in Green Bay’s January loss against Atlanta. The Falcons’ run defense struggled Week 1 in Chicago, and any success on the ground for the Packers will make it incredibly difficult to keep them out of the end zone.

Why the Falcons could cover the spread

The Packers won’t be nearly as successful at getting to the quarterback in Week 2 as they were in the season opener. Atlanta’s offensive line isn’t only much better than Seattle's, but it’s better than most of the offensive lines in the league.

Ryan didn’t face a ton of pressure in Week 1, but he handled Chicago’s pass rush well when it won the battle against the Falcons’ offensive line. He had a 110.0 passer rating while under pressure, according to Pro Football Focus, leading Atlanta to a 23-17 win on the road. His overall numbers of 321 passing yards on 21-of-30 passing for a score and no interceptions are further proof that Ryan will be back as one of football’s elite signal callers.

Less pressure on the quarterback will mean more responsibility on Green Bay’s secondary. The unit was torched by Julio Jones eight months ago when he caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers’ secondary is better than it was last year, but there might not be a unit in the entire NFL that can prevent Jones from making big plays when Ryan has time to throw.


Atlanta ranked 25th in yards allowed last year, but the team’s defense is better than some might think. They’ve got one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers in Vic Beasley, and they allowed just 176 passing yards on the road in Week 1.

If the Falcons can avoid any type of Super Bowl hangover, they should be back to being one of the NFC’s best teams in 2017.

Prediction

Sunday night’s game might be the most entertaining in Week 2. Expect to see a lot of points, and the team with the ball last might ultimately end up winning. The over/under is 53.5.

It’s a hard one to call, but grabbing the three points might be the best bet when the teams are this evenly matched. The Falcons needed a late field goal to beat the Packers at home when Green Bay and Atlanta met in the 2016 regular season, and Sunday’s game could have a similar finish.

Green Bay over Atlanta, 35-31