Falcons fans who feast on the lack of attention and praise directed toward their team have full bellies this week.
The majority of the country believes Green Bay has Saturday's game in the bag, according to an ESPN poll. On the website's SportsNation page, which polls fans with various sports questions, 55 percent of respondents predicted a Packers win, as of Thursday afternoon. Outside Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee, only New Hampshire went with the Falcons. Live free or die, indeed.
A number of pundits also went with Green Bay, including Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network, who called a Packers victory his lock of the week. A statistical analysis of the Falcons on a New York Times football blog concluded that they are "quite lucky to be where they are" and gave them a 33 percent chance of winning.
However, someone who makes a living handicapping games, MGM Mirage race and sports book director Jay Rood, predicts a narrow Falcons win.
"I just think the team that has the potential to get a big play on defense and put up steady points is Atlanta," Rood said. "I don't think it's going to be easy, but I think Atlanta will probably play with the lead throughout the game, and Green Bay's going to have to do a desperate drive to tie it up or win the game."
Place your bets
At the MGM Mirage, gamblers can place bets on which player will score the first touchdown. Running back Michael Turner is getting 2-to-1 odds, wide receivers Roddy White 7-to-2 and Michael Jenkins 6-to-1. Green Bay Packers running backs James Starks and Brandon Jackson are both 3-to-1.
On gambling website bodog.com, the over/under line for Turner's rushing yards total is 85 1/2. The over/under line for White is 80 1/2 receiving yards and for Ryan is 240 1/2 passing yards.
One of the Falcons' biggest fans can't watch the game because he has to work. That would be Hawks forward Josh Smith, who will be playing Saturday night at Philips Arena, a few hundred yards from the Georgia Dome. Smith is friends with White and has known wide receiver Harry Douglas since they were kids.
Said Smith, "I want to be there so bad."
Can't hear you
The Falcons launched Project 115 on Thursday, their attempt to rile up fans to hit 115 decibels Saturday in the Georgia Dome. (The date is 1/15. Pretty clever, eh?) Since 2008, when the team began taking readings, the loudest recording was a 2008 game that hit 117.9. A rock-music concert is about 110 decibels; a jet plane taking off 100 yards away is 120.
WAGA-TV will air a pregame show from 6:30 to 7 p.m. and then start postgame coverage after Fox's national broadcast goes off the air, with a show hosted by sports anchor Ken Rodriguez and former Falcons kicker Morten Andersen.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com