Blog Entry

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Posted on: January 13, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 9:37 am
Posted by Will Brinson's patented and award-winning 7-point preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. As an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:

1. Green Bay Packers (No. 6, NFC, 11-6) @  Atlanta Falcons (No. 1, NFC, 13-3)

in a week that features two unbelievably potent AFC rivalries, the NFC might actually sport the most compelling rematch when the Packers return to the ATL to try and avenge a 20-17 Week 12 loss . At the time, that game was considered a preview of the NFC Championship, and this time around, nothing's changed, except the two teams are meeting earlier than expected.

The difference in that first tilt essentially hinged on two plays -- an Aaron Rodgers fumble on the one-yard line and a fourth-down conversion during the ensuing drive for Atlanta. Things play out differently if the reverse of each play occurs, of course, but that was a 14-point swing that dramatically altered the outcome of the game. What makes things interesting is that this time around, the Packers have, theoretically, enough of a running game to potentially avoid Rodgers playing the role of "leading rusher" for Green Bay, and, perhaps, a devastating turnover.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking

For a minute, I started photoshopping three Mora heads. Then I watched the highlights from the first time these teams met, listened to the video below, and frankly, it's just too good of a matchup not to be worth more. Only the potential AFC overshadow factor keeps it from the full five.

3. Key Matchup to Watch: Packers front seven vs. Michael Turner

In 2010, the Falcons went undefeated when Michael Turner (or Jason Snelling, if you want to include their 41-7 whupping of Arizona in Week 2) crossed the 100-yard rushing mark. When Turner rushed for less than 75 yards, they went 3-3, with one of those victories being the meaningless-by-halftime Week 17 game against the Panthers.  The other two sub-75 victories were by a total of 7 points, against San Francisco and Baltimore. In the Falcons three losses, Turner didn't total 100 yards combined

So to say that the rushing game is important for the Falcons is mildly understating things. Against Green Bay the first time, Turner ripped off three runs of 14 yards or more (and a slew of five-plus-yard runs) en route to a 4.8 yards per carry average (his season YPC was 4.1). 

The Packers can't blitz as much as they might against a team with a less, um, traditional offensive set -- Atlanta's old-school run game (two tight ends, big backfields) doesn't present a whole lot of holes where Dom Capers can send attackers, and Mike Mularkey specializes in deflecting the brunt of tacklers to give Turner room to work.

Additionally, Turner getting his motor running keep Matt Ryan from having to force things and opens up the Falcons ability to exploit Tony Gonzalez' receiving talents against an increasingly run-wary (and weary) group of linebackers. 

In other words, if Green Bay manages to limit the run game even somewhat substantially, their odds of strolling out of the Georgia Dome with a win increase exponentially.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

The people involved in this game aren't exactly old-school players (although Atlanta's style might be), but they're not new-school fools either. But if you like fish n' grits and all that, well, do you know what I am saying? (NSFW lyrics may apply if you click play. You'll also likely be fired if you keep throwing your hands in the air and waving them like you don't care. Please be warned.)

5. The Packers will win if ...

If Aaron Rodgers can grow up and leave less than 56 seconds on the clock when the Packers score for the last time in the game. I kid, I kid. The Packers need to match Atlanta's ability to sustain drives by incorporating the running game (thereby opening up the passing game) before taking some shots downfield. Oh, and stop the run and force Matt Ryan to make mistakes. It's really that simple. 

6. The Falcons will win if ...

They can limit big plays from the Packers passing game and get Turner over the magic 100-yard mark. Him hitting that high number means there's some salting-away of the clock and/or long, sustained drives going on, and that's good news for Atlanta.

7. Prediction: Falcons 23, Packers 20


Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:21 pm

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 5, 2012 9:27 pm
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Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: January 15, 2011 3:12 pm

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Packers offense is 3 dimensional. They have one of the best QB's in the game, sorry but Ryan isn't anywhere close to his level. They in fact have a running game. Every Green Bay fan has been waiting to see Starks play. We knew it was a steal in the 6th round. Was going to be a 1st 2nd round guy until he was injured for his senior season. And last of all, Rodgers can run as well. Three ways that the Falcons will lose tonight.

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: January 15, 2011 1:21 pm

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Anybody who thinks their "insight" will reveal the winner of this game is NUTS! Go back and read the analysis' of last week's games and find one that hit the nail on the head! Which expert picked the Seahawks in a shootout? Which one picked the Packer's to win because of their running game and Vick turnovers? Which one predicted the Jets to win a defensive struggle with the Indy defense far outshining the offense? I wouldn't bet a dime on any specific team winning this week! Any "homer" will pump their team, only natural, although the nasty back and forth rhetoric in message boards lately makes the political stuff look cordial. I can predict one thing though, bet against the team picked as the biggest favorite, take the over in the game with the lowest posted over/under total and vise-versa, pick the LEAST likely wide reciever,quarterback, and running back for your fantasy team and you definitely have a better than 50/50 chance this week!

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: January 15, 2011 12:13 pm

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

You are the only idiot that i see. I'm sure you see the same one griffin7706

Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: January 15, 2011 12:00 pm

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

The Falcons are well rounded on offense. They run and pass. The Packers are 1 dimensional. They cant run..That Sparks/Starks watever his name is wont duplicate last week's performance..They throw it ok..90% of the time its a slant route..or some dink and dunk typical west coast offense play..The Falcons are the better team and I hope they prevail.

Since: Feb 16, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:31 am

Analysis Paralysis

I could care less if Turner breaks a hundy or not. Pack D stopping this or that. Ryan this, Rodgers that. Starks running well or not. Roddy healthy or not. Sustaining drives vs quick strikes. Tight ends making a difference. Blah, blah, yada, yada... To me this game comes down to one simple factor - PRESSURE. What team is under more pressure to win? What team has the most to lose? Which teams players are under the most pressure to perform well?  All signs point to Atlanta. How does pressure impact inexperience? Sure Ryan has played well in a few tight regular games. However this is the playoffs, the game is completely different. Will Ryan hold up? Not sure. The Pckers are a 6 seed, less pressure. The Pack is supposed to lose, less pressure. The entire Pack D, Rodgers, Starks, Driver, Jennings & company really have nothing to lose. The Pack will be loose and playing with speed and experience. A very dangerous combination.  Be afraid Atlanta, be very afraid...

Since: Jan 15, 2011
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:28 am

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

You are a fucking idiot he fumbled because he got hit by a falcon lets see your stupid ass get out there and get hit by one of them and lets see if you can hold on to the ball. We don t need to score alot when we hold the ball for three of the four quarters lol good luck it is going to be a hell of a game

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2011 10:09 am

There are 2 Keys for Success Per Team

For Green Bay the first key for success is how their Tight End(s) plays. If the Pack's Tight End(s) are blocking well, and then ,making plays downfield, then Green Bay's offense will be very difficult to stop long-term. Blocking well opens up Green Bay's running game go. If they are able to get open and catch passes, it will force coverage by linebackers and safeties, making the Pack's wide Receivers and Running Back coverage harder by the Falcons.

From Atlanta's perspective, if Michael Jenkins, the Wide Receiver lining up opposite Roddy Jones, has a big day catching passes, it will open up a world of hurt for Green Bay's defense as he will take a lot of quick passes from Ryan to the sideline, over the middle, and even deep. This will force linebackers to drop back to cover as well as corners and safeties to stop from cheating against the run and doubling Gonzales and White, thereby opening up the rest of Atlanta's offense. Next, if Matt Ryan can run the Falcon's no-huddle offense on a regular basis, it will keep Green Bay's defense on the field and on the line of scrimmage, hopefully wearing down defensive lineman, and allowing Ryan to audible to better plays.

The intangible is obviously crown noise in the GA Dome. If the place is rocking when Green Bay has the ball, and they end up with a lot of penalties, causing extra down and distance on their drives, or confusion on plays, routes, etc., it will also the Falcons.

Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: January 15, 2011 9:34 am

Falcons vs. Packers: 7-Point Divisional Preview

The way you win in the playoffs is based on your matchups & your ability to impose your type of game plan while forcing the other team out of thier strengths.  The Packers strength is pass rush & wide open offense, the Falcons is a ground and pound.  Fast break vs. half court.  If Falcons can keep it close and pound the Pack on the ground, they will win.  If the Packers get up early & force the Flacons out of thier running game, they will have a great chance of winning. 

Roddy White will be covered by Woodson & safety, while Jenkins will be covered by T. Williams.  That leaves Gonzalez against Hawk & or safety, maybe rookie nickleback shields  That is the key match up & Gonzalez is to good for any one Packer defender.  So that puts 5 Packer defenders on 3 Falcon players & opens up a huge advantage for thier running game.

In the dome, Rodgers will have a fast field for Driver, Jennings, Nelson & Jones and now a spread offense with Starks playing well will keep the Falcons defense guessing.  Even if Starks is not as affective as last week, the threat is there which opens up the play action.  This should leave an open seam for Quarless as the least threat to the defense, thus the biggest target for the offense. 

So kids, Impose your will, take the other team out of thier game, & ultimatley your Tight End is the difference in the game.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or