By Steve Keating
(Reuters) – The Georgia Dome’s final game could fittingly be an explosive one with the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers poised to blow the roof off the place when the NFL’s most potent offenses clash on Sunday for a berth in the Super Bowl.
With Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers leading supercharged offences against leaky defenses, Las Vegas bookmakers have set a record high “over-under” — or the total combined points scored — for a playoff contest at 60 points.
When both teams met in the regular season Atlanta won 33-32 after Ryan tossed a last-minute touchdown and many expect more fireworks in Sunday’s NFC Championship.
“Both teams, from when we played before, are a better version of what they were at that time,” said Atlanta coach Dan Quinn. “It’s going to be a heck of game.”
“There have been a number of times (against the Packers) where it has totally come right down to the finish. These kinds of games usually do.”
The Georgia Dome, which will be demolished later this year, has not always been home sweet home for the Falcons who won more games on the road than at home during the regular season. But Atlanta will take any perceived advantage they can going against the surging Packers.
After a mid-season wobble the Packers have run the table as Rodgers predicted, averaging 30.8 points per game over the home stretch before impressive playoff wins over the New York Giants and top-seeded Dallas Cowboys.
Both Rodgers and Ryan will attack creaky defenses that were buried near the bottom of the league rankings.
Ryan, whose 38 touchdown passes this season trailed only the 40 thrown by Rodgers, will try to exploit a depleted Packers secondary with the help of Julio Jones, who finished second in receiving yards but has been slowed by a sore foot.
Rodgers is likely to be without his favorite target Jordy Nelson, who led the league in touchdowns with 14 but missed the division playoffs with damaged ribs.
“I’ve never played receiver with broken ribs, either. We’ll find out, hopefully,” said Nelson. “It’s one of those things that you’ll figure out when you get out there.”
Even without Nelson, Rodgers will have no shortage of weapons in speedy Randall Cobb, Ty Montgomery, Davante Adams and Jared Cook, who made a spectacular sideline catch to setup Green Bay’s winning field goal against Dallas.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)