Falcons vs. Packers: Saturday (Sunday) Scoop

Julio Jones

The Green Bay Packers finally get an appearance on Monday Night Football this season as they host the Atlanta Falcons to kick off the December portion of their schedule.  The Packers are 6-0 at home and are playing some inspiring football over the past month.  With big wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, the Packers must be taken seriously and especially at Lambeau Field.

The Falcons come in at 5-7 and leading the NFC South.  These things happen every once in a while.  Back in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record, hosted a playoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints and promptly beat the Saints to advance.  Is “any given Sunday” alive and well again in 2014?  That remains to be seen.

The Falcons come in ranked last in total defense based on yards allowed.  I was set to go with a different narrative on that until I had a little discussion with Scott Carasik, who is a game day correspondent with Bleacher Report and also hosts the Falcons podcast on Pro Football Central.  Scott happened to be talking about Atlanta’s secondary and how the volume stats don’t give them nearly the credit they deserve.  Having a flashback to the 2011 Packers defense, I immediately (and ill-advisedly) chimed in and questioned how those numbers can be totally wrong.

As they say, “timing is everything” and I was just getting set to write this post when Scott and I were bantering.  Yes, he’s a Falcons fan, but he’s got credibility in his coverage and he’s a good follow for those of you on Twitter.  Scott pointed out that while the Falcons “rank last” in total yardage, they’re top 10 in interceptions and have given up the 3rd fewest passing touchdowns in the league.  The interception stat can’t be ignored as after all, that’s what the 2011 Packers lived on, right?  If you’re going to give up yards, you better take the ball away before the opposition punches it in.  Another parallel between this Falcons team and that Packers team is a lack of pressure generated on opposing quarterbacks.  The Patriots may be able to cover for 12 seconds at a time, but most secondaries start to dip in production at five, six seconds.  Scott also reminded me that the Falcons have seen the 13th-most pass attempts on defense, so it’s not just a case of opposing teams building a lead and sitting on it with the run game.  Teams are throwing on the Falcons.

Enter the guy who throws the football for the Packers.  Aaron Charles Rodgers.  He hasn’t turned the ball over at home in over two calendar years.  Spare me that he missed some home games last season due to the collarbone injury.  The man doesn’t turn the ball over.  He’s playing the position at the highest level many have ever seen.  Throw in two of the league’s best receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and even a solid secondary will have issues.  Oh, Davante Adams wants to join the party, too?  And Richard Rodgers has two touchdowns in two weeks?  Good luck to all defensive backs!  And with a Packers defense that is getting to the quarterback and holding up their end of the bargain better than they have the past few years, it’s an ideal combination heading into the playoff chase.

In the run game, Packers running back Eddie Lacy has picked it up and nearly has his first back-t0-back 100-yard rushing performances.  He’s become a bigger threat out of the backfield in the short passing game and he’s not fun to tackle in the open field.  Establishing Lacy early will create many, many good things for the Packers in the passing game later on against Atlanta.

This isn’t a trap game.  Those days are over.  I say that because watching this team hone in and beat the Patriots and close out in Minnesota the week prior (THAT was a trap game), this team is dialed in.  They’re focused on their goals and with just four games left and home field advantage in their grasp, they’re full speed ahead.  Sure, they might lose a game or two and that’s life in the NFL.  Nothing is promised nor guaranteed.  This week on his “Tuesdays with Aaron” show on ESPNMilwaukee, Rodgers said it’s too early to start talking about playoffs, seeding, etc.  It’s no doubt on the Packers’ minds, but they’re not letting on.  Head coach Mike McCarthy takes a “keep it in house” approach to those types of things and so expect to hear all of the usual cliches and generalizations by players being asked about what could be this season.  One thing I can assure you they do not want to be this season is another trip to Seattle.  By winning out, the Packers would avoid that scenario with a one-game edge on the Seahawks.

While many are picking the Packers to win easily, there are 11 guys on the other side who get paid, too.  Falcons receiver Julio Jones needs to be accounted for and if Packers corner Sam Shields isn’t cleared to play, Davon House will get the nod.  Jones has the speed to burn past coverage but can Atlanta’s offensive line give quarterback Matt Ryan enough time to throw?  Ryan has been sacked 24 times this season which isn’t gaudy by any means, but pressure is key.  There is no Tony Gonzalez as a safety valve this time around.  In the run game, Falcons running back Steven Jackson has to be watching tape of the Packers struggling to bring down big, physical backs and seeing an opportunity.  Green Bay’s struggles to stop the run are well-documented and they’ll need a solid game plan to counter the Jackson, Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers show.  An early lead wouldn’t hurt either, which would force Atlanta to abandon the run and throw their way to victory.

After turning in a marvelous game plan against the Patriots, Mike McCarthy comes up against a guy in Mike Smith who is fighting for his job.  Despite the Falcons leading the South, Smith is undoubtedly on the hot seat.  Since appearing in the NFC Championship game following the 2012 season and coming within a few yards of a Super Bowl appearance, Atlanta has plummeted into mediocrity.  The loss of aging veterans and injury problems have plagued this team.  Smith has had to try and hold this team together and perhaps the South division’s abysmal play this season is an answer to his prayers.  The Falcons just knocked off the Arizona Cardinals, who previously had just two losses and are currently the NFC’s number one seed.  Arizona’s quarterback situation is well-documented, but the Falcons were still able to move the ball on one of the better defenses in the league.  Can they do it again on the road?  They’re a much different team away from the Georgia Dome.

As you’ve likely seen already, we’re all picking the Packers to win this game and I don’t foresee many scenarios where that could drastically change, barring injury.  But don’t be surprised if this ends up more of the 31-24 variety.  Sure, the NFL is unpredictable and “that’s why they play the game”, but these Packers, by now, have proven they can win a number of ways.  And a win is a win.



Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

Follow Jason Perone:



9 thoughts on “Falcons vs. Packers: Saturday (Sunday) Scoop

  1. Packers win this one by at least 2 TD’s as long as Barrington and Matthews plays ILB if Hawk gets the majority of the snaps then it could be the Falcons keep it close.

    1. There is only one player on the team that can make that kind of influence. He is playing on QB position. Neither one other player can win the game alone nor lose it…

    2. Jeff, Hawk only played 8 snaps and the Falcons nearly pulled off the upset. I’m convinced the Pack’s defense was playing NOT to get injured, had the Falcons got one of the two onside kick tries, I’m not sure this Packers defense could’ve stopped’em, especially had JJones not been injured and still on the field for Atlanta. Barrington aggressively attacked the run game at the line of scrimmage instead of behind the line in cleanup as Hawk seems to do most of the time but he was NO better in pass coverage than Hawk. He was chasing the backs of jerseys most of the pass plays. It looks to me if the Pack’s defense is trying to prevent injuries before the playoffs begin, coasting through by trying to “bend but not break” and trying not to be too aggressive in tackles. Sam Shields got a concussion last week going for the legs of a Patriots RB with his helmet, most look to be playing safe rather than tough and aggressive except for Clay Matthews and his motor never stops.

  2. This is very reasonable review, Jasone. That is what I’m talking all week to other Packers fans. Panthers win over Saints just confirms your observation. I have no doubts Packers will win. They can lose only if they win themselves, but if there will be some players with underestimating attitude, the win will be “ugly” and with small margin. Lets hope that Packers will show us that they are serious & mature team and they will win with decent margin. I think this Panthers win over Saints little helped Packers, as Falcons will not be so desperate…

  3. The Packers key? Don’t turn over the football. As long as they take care of the rock, everything else will take care of itself.

    Except for Davon “Cement Shoes” House.

  4. The Broncos looked terrible today and beat the Bills by only 7 at home.

    The Raiders beat the 49ers.

    The Eagles beat the Cowboys last week 33- 10. Today the Eagles had a total of 163 yards total offense. 57 yards rushing and 96 passing – and that’s in Philadelphia and lose 24-14 to Seattle.

    Strange things can happen in this league.

    I think we win but I take nothing for granted.

    1. That Seattle win in Phil was not a surprise to me. That defense of Seattle is back!! To me they are the front runners to win this all. The Packers one way or another are going to have to beat Seattle at home or on the road to get to the super bowl. I think this second time around they definitely can do it but they are our Dallas Cowboys of the 90’s. They are the only team that scares me honestly and it’s because of their defense.

      1. Calm down. I respect Mark Sanchez, but he is not in the same league as Aaron. Neither the OL of the Eagles. Eagles run defense was good all game, but Wilson were killing them with his run… Something Packers learned to stop… Eagles secondary was awful. The best average receiving group of Seattle looked like real threat… They converted numerous 3 and longs. So, by my opinion Seattle is winnable, especially at Lambeau Field…

        1. Two best teams in NFC right now are the Packers and the Seahawks. In the AFC it looks like Denver and Pittsburgh. Brady has not been sharp last two. Pats’ defense could improve with return of healthy Jones and Hightower. Rarely do we have rematch SBs but SEA v DEN is real possibility. As is Packers v Steelers.

Comments are closed.