The best way for Atlanta to win this Conference Championship Game is obvious, and I alluded to it this morning. It’s stopping Aaron Rodgers. The problem with that very simple solution is that it’s also insanely difficult to pull off.
Over his last 11 games, Rodgers has thrown 24 touchdowns and one single, solitary interception, which came last week against the Cowboys. He’s been hit and sacked plenty of times behind that makeshift offensive line, but the Packers have still won all 11 of those games, which points to just how good Rodgers is. You can win battles against him and still lose the war.
The Falcons, of course, don’t seem particularly likely to win a lot of battles. They did a terrific job against the Seahawks, with Brooks Reed, Jonathan Babineaux, and others getting good pressure and both Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen coming up with crucial interceptions. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rodgers is a better passer than Wilson, though, and that he has a more competent offensive line in front of him. With Ty Montgomery providing some balance with his acumen as a runner, it’s fair to wonder what the Falcons can do if they can’t get turnovers.
The problem with stopping Aaron Rodgers, then, is that there is no magic formula for stopping Aaron Rodgers. He’s won games where he’s been sacked five times and lost games where he’s been sacked five times in 2016. He threw two picks once and won, threw picks a second time and lost. And so on.
The silver lining here? As many have noted, Rodgers has fared poorly against Dan Quinn defenses in the past, albeit only once (and not that badly) against Atlanta’s:
Rodgers sucks against Dan Quinn lmao pic.twitter.com/qh3mHtoXtz— NFC SOUTH KINGS! (@NathanGroover1) January 17, 2017
While you already know I’m not among the most optimistic Falcons fans for this upcoming game, I do think this Falcons defense has enough speed and talent to force the kind of mistakes that can turn this game. The Falcons have to understand that they’ll need to blitz more to get to Rodgers, who hasn’t been as crisp when blitzed throughout this season, and that they’ve got to be more willing to gamble for turnovers because Rodgers is perfectly capable of beating even tight coverage. Again, you only need a couple of breaks because of how good this Atlanta offense is and can be.
If the Falcons prove to be unstoppable on offense themselves, they may only need one big turnover to make this thing work. Let’s hope they can get it, but I’m open to your suggestions for how you’d stop Rodgers.