Despite what ended up being a closer game than what some expected last week, the Falcons head into week two with a win under their belt and a huge matchup in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday night. Aaron Rodger and the Packers look to spoil Atlanta’s grand opening and get revenge for a huge loss they suffered in the NFC Championship game last season.
The Atlanta defense played a decent game against the Bears last week, but the task this week will be much tougher and a little more demanding. Is the Falcons defense up to the challenge? We’ll see.
In the trenches
Last week’s game between Seattle and Green Bay featured two pretty average offensive line performances. However, one had more to do with the lack of quality at those positions (Seattle) and the other was probably due to the great competition they were facing (Green Bay). I love Atlanta’s revamped defensive line but I am under no illusions that they are anywhere close to what Seattle has along the line of scrimmage, so I expect a better performance out of Corey Linsley, Jahri Evans, and Lane Taylor.
Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett will be the difference between the Falcons getting Rodgers on the ground and him breaking contain and hurting them with his legs. If they can collapse the middle of the pocket while Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn set the edge and keep contain, Rodgers could be forced to rely on his receivers to win individual matchups down the field.
I think this is a matchup that could go either way. As long as the Falcons don’t let Rodgers create with his legs, and make Ty Montgomery work for the yardage he gains, they will do enough to keep Atlanta’s offense from having to absolutely dominate the game.
Last time these two teams played, the Packers had a depleated wide receiving corps as a result of injuries and attrition. This week, the Packers enter the game much healthier and boast a much more complete group of pass catchers, highlighted by Martellus Bennett and Jordy Nelson. Expect Rodgers to feel a little more confident than last game in his receivers ability to get some separation, but that doesn’t mean that they will be able to—though the amount of space needed is pretty minimal.
Desmond Trufant and the Falcons secondary had an inconsistent game last week against a pretty average group of wideouts, so they will need to get back to their typical form in order to slow down the Green Bay offense. De’Vondre Campbell and the rest of the Falcons’ linebackers will be asked to cover a number of different players out of the slot, backfield, and tight end spot, and that will be a big test for each one of them with Rodgers looking to exploit any mistake they make.
On paper, the Falcons win this matchup as long as they limit the mistakes and make sure they minimize the number of chunk plays. They won’t ever totally stop Rodgers but their job will be to slow him down enough and maybe force a turnover or two.
Advantage: Falcons (close to a push, though, due to Aaron Rodgers)
These two teams know each other pretty well so this will come down to who can execute and limit the mistakes. The Falcons have speed to make up for some mistakes but they also have young players who are more prone to making mistakes.
I fully expect Rodgers to have a good game and to play like the Aaron Rodgers we are used to seeing, but if the Falcons can force a mistake or two and give the offense some extra possessions, the Falcons will have a good shot to win this game. I am just 100% not sure that they will be able to make that happen though, so this game is a toss up.