I tend to give the Falcons' opponents respect, because most of the time the outcome of a given game is far from certain. In the case of the Packers, I'm going to take that to the extreme thanks to one man: Aaron Rodgers.
Simply put, I view Rodgers as the best quarterback in the NFL by an increasingly wide margin, and he has the potential to go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Here are his stats through seven full seasons, compared to Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Keep in mind Ryan falls a few games short of the other three, and these numbers may change slightly in the next four games.
Aaron Rodgers: 65.9% completion, 27,522 yards, 8.3 yards per attempt, 220 touchdowns, 55 interceptions
Matt Ryan: 63.9% completion, 26,899 yards, 7.2 yards per attempt, 174 touchdowns, 87 interceptions
Peyton Manning: 65.7% completion, 29,442 yards, 7.4 yards per attempt, 216 touchdowns, 120 interceptions
Tom Brady: 63.4% completion, 26,364 yards, 6.9 yards per attempt, 197 touchdowns, 86 interceptions
As you can see, our very good quarterback and two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time simply can't match this. Rodgers has the best completion percentage, the highest yards per attempt, the most touchdowns and the fewest interceptions over his first seven seasons. He's playing in an even friendlier quarterback era than Manning and Brady started out in, but those are ridiculous numbers. Rodgers has done all of that without the benefit of a strong ground game or great defense throughout most of his career.
It goes without saying that the Falcons need to stop Rodgers to have a productive day against Green Bay, but the question of how you do that is a thorny one. Atlanta's been getting a ton of turnovers in recent weeks thanks to a gelling, ballhawking secondary, but Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception in Lambeau Field since the 2012 season. The Packers' line isn't great, but Rodgers is a wizard at escaping pressure and finding his talented wideouts, particularly Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Get no pressure, no turnovers and stick to those guys like glue and you'll have to deal with him potentially scrambling, which he's done 33 times for 200 yards this season.
The best antidote for Rodgers is a consistent pass rush and an opportunistic secondary that can take advantage of his rare mistakes, but it's worth noting that Rodgers' best season might have been 2012, when he was sacked 51 times. The simple, painful truth is that slowing the guy down requires a lot of skill and a little bit of luck, and the Falcons' best hopes rest on picking him off or hitting him and forcing a fumble, something that has happened 7 times this year. Short of that, they'll simply need to score gobs of points and try to outgun him.
How would you game plan to stop Rodgers?