I didn’t anticipate the way that one Vegas pro would polarize the audience. “Vegas Dave” Oancea definitely has his detractors out there, as witnessed by the vitriol on my Twitter timeline. All I can tell you is just about everything he said ahead of the Falcons beating the Seahawks, 36-20, was spot on.
Those detractors may have plenty of solid reason to question Oancea’s handicapping chops. Many of them were handicappers themselves, so they certainly have their own agendas. All I know is what I heard from Oancea when I interviewed him last time was excellent against-the-grain analysis. Many of the so-called “experts” woke up on the Falcons after last weekend and have been gushing their praises all week.
Instead of being scared off by a little trolling, I wanted to hear what “Vegas Dave” had to say about the specific Packers-Falcons matchup. And not shockingly, with so much to gain from a Falcons win, he is all in on the Dirty Birds.
You were one of the few folks I actually saw solidly articulate the Falcons’ chances ahead of their playoff win. Where are you at with the Falcons now?
Come this Sunday we will see if my pockets are $2 million deeper as I have the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC (Plus another $3 million if they win Super Bowl 51).
You could cash out of this bet at this point, hedge it, correct?
Now, I could easily hedge this bet and take a guaranteed $1 million which most people would do right? Especially facing the red hot Aaron Rodgers and the “running of the table” Green Bay Packers. Only a fool would pass on the guaranteed $1 million most would say right? Nope, not Vegas Dave; I am letting it ride. Some call this greed, but I don’t. I look at it as a way to not leave another $1 million on the table. Call me crazy, but I’m known for making some long shot bold predictions and sticking to my guns on them. Mark my words, the Atlanta Falcons will beat the Green Bay Packers come Jan. 22 at the Georgia Dome.
Why are so sure, other than wanting the big payday?
See everyone is so blinded by the “Aaron Rodgers Show” that he just put on this past weekend that no one in America can see him losing a game. They saw a spectacular outing from the Green Bay Packers offense as they eliminated the Dallas Cowboy’s Super Bowl run. But I saw a different game. I recognize things that most don’t see and use those insights to make my decisions.
What stood out to you?
There are two main reasons why the Packers will not win. They have no run game and zero secondary.
Yes, I saw what Rodgers did but I also saw a Packers team with a dismal defense. It doesn’t matter if you drive down and score a touchdown if you are just going to give it right back. The Packers defense is horrible, especially their secondary. The Falcons’ prolific offense will have a field day and slice through this swiss cheese Packers defense, kind of like what the 23-year-old rookie did for Dallas. But Matt Ryan and company are on a whole different level on offense than the Cowboys. We will cover that later on in this article, but back to the defensive issues of this team. The Packers have the worst secondary in all of
The Packers have the worst secondary in all of football and if you could not see that this past weekend, you should start watching their games closer. The Packers are ranked 31st in pass defense this year only behind the Saints and they are getting worse every game.
They made stops against the Giants.
Don’t let the Giants game fool you from the Wild Card round. The Giants dominated that first half and Eli still threw for 300 yards on this Packer defense. Did you see how much separation the Dallas receivers had on every reception they caught? They almost had 1-3 yards on every single reception. I have never seen a secondary play so poor in an NFL game.
Green Bay has no answer to the wide receiver core of the Falcons. First off, they have no one, I mean no one that can match Julio Jones. He is a nightmare waiting to happen. The aging Dez Bryant caught nine passes for a buck-30 on them. What do you think Jones will do? Green Bay doesn’t have a lockdown corner like Seattle did with Sherman and Jones was still able to run circles around him.
They could just double-up on Jones.
The real mismatches, believe it or not, are with the other wide receivers versus the defensive backs for the Packers. The Pack will put their best corner on Jones, which is not saying much, but will do a lot of double teams as well. But what about Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel? What about Perkins, Hooper and Hardy? Sanu and Gabriel will have a great day on the second and third defensive backs from Green Bay. Bottom line, the Packers’ secondary will be slaughtered by this aerial attack of the Falcons.
Bottom line, the Packers’ secondary will be slaughtered by this aerial attack of the Falcons.
So it’s a shootout. Rodgers has shown he can win a shootout.
The Packers’ lack of a run game is going to be exposed against a stronger pass defense, especially if Davonte Adams is as hobbled as he appeared this week in practice. As I said before, a converted wide receiver in Ty Montgomery will not suffice. Sure he had some decent runs but the Dallas’ front four is weak and linebacker Sean Lee probably played his worst game all season.
I am a firm believer that you have to be able to run the ball in the playoffs to win. This 40-50 passing attempts per game by Rodgers will not continue to work during this playoff run. There will be times where it’s third and fourth and short and even times where they will be inside the 5 where a shotgun 4-5 wide formation will not work. The backyard flag football game that Rodgers is doing every week will not win a ring in the end. You need balance on the offensive side with both the run and pass game. This is something Atlanta has and Green Bay does not. Atlanta had the No. 1 passing attack and the No. 5 running attack in the league. Now that’s balance.
The Packers have dispensed with some pretty strong offenses during this run. How is this week any different?By football metrics, Green Bay has faced the easiest schedule in the NFL this year. That’s right, dead last. Guess what Atlanta’s is? Number one. This team is not battle tested at all! Since Rodgers said they will “run the table,” let’s talk about their opponents’ QBs and their offense from when they began this winning streak.
Game 1, 24-year-old rookie Carson Wentz. Game 2, a pathetic and overpaid Brock Osweiler, who is an interception machine. Game 3, Wilson and the Seahawks at home who are terrible on the road. Game 4, a backup QB in Matt Barkley and the Bears who almost pulled out a win. Game 5, Sam Bradford and the dismal Vikings offense. Game 6, Matt Stafford with a dislocated finger. Game 7, Eli and the low-powered Giants attack (who actually dominated the first half and should have put that game away early; 300 yards passing that game). Then finally game 8, last week’s contest against Dallas and a rookie QB in Dak Prescott. Do you think this is a good resume? They faced these bottom of the league offenses, besides Dallas, and still finished dead last next to the Saints in passing defense.
Wake up, people, and try to see what I see! Yes, on paper, running the table looks very good, but these are games they are supposed to win. I am not impressed. However, I do give the kudos for finishing every game especially in the NFL where upsets happen all the time. Bottom line, if you do the numbers, you will have the worst pass defense in the NFL with the Packers against the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
This defense must be doing something right, making key stops to win these games.
Besides Nick Perry, this team is pretty soft at all levels on the defensive side. Let me elaborate. If you watched the game against Dallas, Dak threw for 300 yards with a QBR of 82.7, with Rodgers’ rating only a tad higher at 83.9 but everyone was so blinded by Rodgers performance that Dak’s flew under the radar. This rookie had a great day because of the bad pass rush of the Packers.
What about those who say Matt Ryan can be flustered with just the slightest bit of pressure?
Yes, Dallas has the top offensive line in the NFL, but Atlanta’s is a hidden gem. They are the only team to have their offensive line start together every game anchored by the pro bowler Alex Mack. You give Ryan time to throw the ball, it’s lights out for this Packers defense.
I believe Atlanta wins the battle of the trenches and protects Ryan this game as they have been doing all season long. Now, the linebackers for the Packers versus the the dual-threat running backs for the Falcons is another nightmare waiting to happen. There is no way John Ryan and an aging Clay Mathews will keep up and cover Freeman and Coleman out of the backfield. The two headed monster provided over 200 yards of total offense against the comparatively far-better linebacking crew of the Seahawks. Keep in mind this includes Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner, who led the league in tackles.
The Falcons could have easily hung 50 on this top-5 defensive team in Seattle. They had a few mistakes in the red zone not to mention they took a knee on the one-yard line two straight times to end the game.
If Dan Quinn didn’t have so much respect for his old coach, Pete Carroll, then this is a 43-20 final.
If the Falcons have a better defense than Dallas, why is the over-under historically high here?
How many points do you think Atlanta is going to score on the Packers? A lot, that’s why this is the second highest total in a playoff game ever. Currently the total sits at 61 points after opening up at 62. Why? The Falcons led the league in pretty much every offensive category including scoring on 52 percent of their drives, which they continued against the Seahawks this past week. This stat is mind boggling. They score points just a bit over every other time they touch the ball on the offensive side while they faced the toughest schedule in the NFL. Now they get ready to face the worst secondary in the NFL.
Packers fans are saying the Falcons defense is just as bad. They’re wrong. This team has a combination of five or six rookies and second-year starters on the defensive side. It took the halfway mark of the season for them to grow and play as a cohesive unit as they got adjusted to the NFL.
Weeks 1-10, the defense was getting slaughtered, giving up 28 points a game. Since the bye week, they are averaging 20 a game — that’s a huge improvement. If you watched this past game, they gave up a touchdown on the first drive of the game and not one more till late in the fourth quarter. And that’s with the Seahawks’ average starting field position at their own 40 thanks to Devin Hester’s great performance. Atlanta was still able to hold them to only two touchdowns.
This is a very young but fast and opportunistic defense where the Packers are a lot older and slower. I will take the speed of this defensive side all day over the aging Green Bay. They have two great young players in Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. Don’t forget the Falcons have the NFL sack leader in Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks for the season). In the secondary I believe Jalen Collins is one of the most underrated corners in the league, keep an eye out for him as well. Remember one word about the ATL defense, and that’s speed, speed, speed! They are very fast, young and improving each and every game.
So does that mean the Packers are going to be shut down?
The Packers will score their points. As much as I like the improvement of Atlanta’s defense, neither of these defenses is top tier. Trust me covering Nelson, Adams, Cobb, Allison, and Cook will be tough and the Packers will produce points. What I’m saying is that the Atlanta defense will have more stops than the Packers defense throughout the game. A bend-but-won’t-break defense for lack of a better term. The deciding factor is because GB cannot run the ball effectively throughout the game. Keep in mind Dan Quinn is a defensive genius. He was the brains behind the Legion of Boom for years in Seattle. Look what he has done with the youngest defense in football, in less than one season. Atlanta will outscore the Packers come this Sunday.
The deciding factor is the Packers’ lacking run game. Keep in mind Dan Quinn is a defensive genius. He was the brains behind the Legion of Boom for years in Seattle. Look what he has done with the youngest defense in football, in less than one season. Atlanta will outscore the Packers come this Sunday.
Who do you like in terms of the kickers?
If this game comes down to the wire, even though Mason Crosby came through for the Packers, I will take the Pro Bowler Matt Bryant all day over him to make the last-minute field goal.
You still believe this is the year that offense wins a Lombardi Trophy?
I am a firm believer that defense wins championships. That’s the sole reason I predicted the Denver Broncos last year in the pre-season. But this year, it is a different year in the NFL where there are no dominant defenses like last year’s Broncos squad. This year will be an offensive team that raises the Lombardi Trophy come Feb 5. The winner will be a team with a great offense and just enough defense to get by. That the Falcons have and Green Bay does not.
Last week’s article brought out a lot of haters. How do you answer your detractors?
Look, I will always have critics and doubters but that’s just part of the business I am in. But I do put my money where my mouth is and back it up. Keep in mind, last year everyone said I was crazy when I made a six-figure wager on the Broncos in pre-season at 16-1 odds. Then last February they all became believers when I collected $2.3 million.
I have no loyalty to any team. I bet with my mind, not my heart. Last year was the Broncos, this year it’s the Falcons and next year, who knows? I just focus one season at a time.
If Atlanta wins the Super Bowl, the 75-1 wager will turn out to be a gold mine. If they win the NFC this week it pays me $2 million and if they win the Super Bowl another $3 million, for a total of $5 million. A
You can call Aaron Rodgers the GOAT, but it’s Matty Ice’s time. He has paid his dues and now I believe truly it is his time to shine. You can catch me front row at midfield on the Atlanta sideline this Sunday. Just remember one thing. This is the year of the Dirty Birds.
Tim Wood is the former managing editor of Bleacher Report and the founder of Pix Populi Sports. Follow Pix Populi on Twitter @PixPopuliSports