NFC Divisional playoff matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons - Printable Version
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NFC Divisional playoff matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons - KJinCton - 01-12-2011 12:04 PM
Very positive prediction for us, but don't get all hyped about it...Read who wrote it first ...:-)
NFC Divisional playoff matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Previewing the NFC Divisional playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons:
1. Matt Ryan is tough at home. In the regular-season matchup, Matt Ryan had one of his better games, completing 24 of 28 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez. Ryan was on top of his game as the line picked up the Packers' fire-zone blitzes and he delivered the ball in a timely manner. They engineered a last-minute drive to get the Falcons in position for a 47-yard game winning field goal kick by Matt Bryant in the 20-17 victory. The Falcons will have to get into makeable third-down situations. They were 4 of 12 (33 percent) in the previous meeting.
2. Falcons pass defense. In the last meeting, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was dazzling, passing for 344 yards and tossing a touchdown pass with 56 seconds left to tie the game 17-17. The Packers established a running game against Philadelphia in the wild-card round with rookie running back James Starks. If the Falcons have to honor Rodger's play-action fakes, that could make covering even more difficult. The Falcons have improved statistically down the stretch as they intercepted seven passes over their last five games. They finished fourth in the league with 22 interceptions. Brent Grimes, who struggled in coverage against Greg Jennings, is playing much better man-to-man defense.
3. The Packers are rolling. The Packers played some of the best football in the league coming down the stretch. They went into New England and nearly pulled off the upset with their backup quarterback. They blitzed Michael Vick and the Eagles into the submission in the wild-card round and in the process found a rushing attack. Rookie James Starks rushed 23 times for 123 yards to provide some balance to the already high voltage passing attack. The Packers outgained the Falcons by 124 yards in the regular-season meeting, but Rodgers had a fumble on the 1-yard line and running back Dimitri Nance was stopped on a third-and-1 from the 4 and they had to settle for a field goal. If they'd converted those two scoring opportunities into touchdowns, they would have won easily.
Three key Packers
RB James Starks. The rookie from Buffalo, a sixth-round pick, was brought along slowly after overcoming his injury problems. He had to get used to working at a pro level and studying film while running backs coach Edgar Bennett taught him some of the finer points of the game. The Packers started to work him into the rotation late in the season. He's no longer the Packers' secret weapon after rushing for 123 yards in the wild-card win over Philadelphia.
QB Aaron Rodgers. Now that he's got his first playoff victory out of the way, he can take a giant step toward the greatness that many have predicted for him. He's lost both of his head-to-head matchups with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. He was sharp in the last meeting, but was clearly strapped by the lack of a running game. He was the Packers leading rusher as he took off 12 times for 51 yards.
LB Clay Matthews. He finished with four tackles and did not register a sack against the Falcons. Right tackle Tyson Clabo did a good job of mauling Matthews in the run game and was solid in protection. The Falcons chipped with a back and sent tight end Justin Peelle over to help out. Matthews finished with 13.5 sacks as the Packers finished first in the NFC with 47 sacks.
Three key Falcons
RB Michael Turner. The Packers will see a lot of The Burner. He rushed 23 times for 110 yards in the last meeting and is amped up for his return to the playoffs. The Falcons need to establish Turner and backup Jason Snelling in order to set up their passing game. They've run the ball much better against 3-4 fronts this season as they've been able to create creases for Turner to bust through on his stretch runs.
CB Brent Grimes. Right cornerback Brent Grimes has improved immensely down the stretch of the season. He struggled in the previous matchup against the Packers in man-to-man coverage. He'll certainly get tested by Aaron Rodgers early. He ended up with five interceptions and 24 passes defensed.
TE Tony Gonzalez. He was targeted six times and caught six passes last time. He picked up two first downs and caught a touchdown pass. With Green Bay S Nick Collins helping out on wide receiver Roddy White, look the for the Falcons to try to find the Gonzalez vs. Charlie Peprah matchup as often as they can.
The Falcons have been built in the likeness of AFC powerhouses Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England. Head coach Mike Smith was at Baltimore, offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey was at Pittsburgh and general manager Thomas Dimitroff was at New England. They'll be ready for the Packers and plan to play some good, old-fashioned smashmouth football in the loud and raucous Georgia Dome. Falcons 28, Packers 10.
-- SN correspondent D. Orlando Ledbetter
RE: NFC Divisional playoff matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons - Jesus - 01-12-2011 12:17 PM
Its funny when you read the first half you'd think the Falcons didn't have a chance. Then you read the last paragraph and see the spread of the final score its a little over the top.
RE: NFC Divisional playoff matchup: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons - RFlagg - 01-12-2011 01:04 PM
I think Ledbetter is a little over the top. I think the Falcons are gonna win by 1 score, 10 points max. 18 points is way too much in my opinion.