Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackThe Falcons ended their five-game losing streak when they came away with an overtime victory at Buffalo. The victory took a great weight off of Matt Ryan’s shoulders and he should be a much more relaxed quarterback in this game. Ryan is an accurate passer and if the Packers can’t put significant pressure on him, he should be able to pick apart the Green Bay defense.There’s a chance that Aaron Rodgers could come back from his left shoulder injury and start against the Falcons. If he can, it’s likely the Packers will have their way with the Falcons and may go on a season-ending four-game winning streak. Rodgers is perhaps the most accurate passer in the game. However, if he can’t play, the Green Bay offense struggles badly with Scott Tolzien or Matt Flynn under center.
- OffenseThe Falcons should have a good chance to do some damage on the ground with Steven Jackson at running back. While he was injured earlier in the year, he’s healthy again and productive. Harry Douglas has stepped up nicely following the injury to Julio Jones. Roddy White is coming off a 10-catch, 143-yard game against the Bills, but he still has ankle soreness.The Packers have decent weapons on offense but they have been hamstrung by Rodgers’ injury. Eddie Lacy is an excellent power back who can break away if he gets to the second level. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is going to find a way to get open and make big plays for the Packers. Jarrett Boykin is a decent weapon who can make big plays.
- DefenseThe Falcons struggle on defense because they tend to get beaten at the point of attack. While the Falcons have speed on defense, they lack bulk and can get pushed around. While the Falcons rank 25th in yards allowed, they have discovered a solid linebacker in Paul Worrilow, who has emerged as the team’s leading tackler with 89 stops. DE Osi Umenyiora has a team-high 6.5 sacks.The Packers rank 23rd in yards allowed and they have started to struggle quite a bit since losing Rodgers. The Packers have a hard time sustaining drives and that means the defense is getting overworked. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is having an excellent year and he leads the team with 103 tackles and he also has 5.0 sacks. Clay Matthews has a team-high 6.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons have plenty of speed on their special teams, but they have yet to break a long return for a touchdown this year. Matt Bryant is one of the league’s best placekickers, and he is having a solid year as he has made 19-of-21 FG attempts.The Packers have done a decent job in punt coverage, but they have had some issues on kickoff coverage. Micah Hyde is a solid return specialist and he has taken one punt back the distance. Mason Crosby has made 26-of-30 FG attempts this season.
This game comes down to Rodgers. If he is healthy enough to get the start, the Packers should win easily. If he can’t, the Falcons could make it two wins in a row. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor