A late season road game for the Atlanta Falcons places them in frigid Green Bay to take on the Packers. Here are three in-game matchups to closely monitor.
Nobody truly enjoys playing in the frozen tundra that is Green Bay, Wisconsin in the month of December. In need of a win as the team is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Falcons will look to snap that streak against a Packers team that has also underwhelmed this season and is coming off the firing of a head coach. The Falcons have won three straight against the Packers but they have all been in the cozy confines of Atlanta, Georgia. Here are three matchups within the game that will play a crucial part in the outcome.
Falcons CBs Desmond Trufant/Robert Alford vs. Packers WR Davante Adams
Quietly, in the midst of the Packers disappointing season, top receiver Davante Adams is having the best season of his career. He tops the Packers in catches, yards, and touchdowns and is fifth, sixth, and second in those same categories among all NFL receivers.
The Falcons have their hands full in this one with this excellent option lined up across from them. In each of the past four games, the Falcons have allowed 216 passing yards or less, which is impressive after allowing over 300 passing yards in five of their first seven games. However, the presence of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his go-to guy in Adams poses a different challenge. The two has shown great chemistry in recent seasons and Trufant and Alford must be disciplined when playing a technician such as Adams.
Falcons Run Defense vs. Packers Run Offense
The run defense has been a crippling feature this season for the Falcons. In nine of 12 games played this season, the Falcons have allowed over 100 rushing yards and in three of the last four games played, they have relinquished over 150 yards. Currently, the Falcons are 27th in rushing defense and 25th in yards allowed per carry. Bottom line, they have struggled in this department all season long.
Luckily, they will be lining up against an offense that is struggling in running the football in recent weeks which coincides with their three-game losing streak. Starting running back Aaron Jones leads the team in rushing but even he has been on-and-off in recent weeks. In the Packers four wins this season, they have averaged a little over 130 rushing yards, which so happens to be exactly how much the Falcons are giving up per game.
Falcons Offensive Line vs. Packers Defensive Line
Here is where the game is likely won or lost for the Falcons. It has slowly manifested over the course of the season that the offensive line has been inconsistent at best and bad at worst. It did not help when veteran left guard Andy Levitre went down with a season-ending torn triceps injury. It also did not help that veteran guard Brandon Fusco was lost for the season with an ankle injury.
Now the Falcons face a Packers defense that is tied for third in the league in sacks with 38 at this point. While veteran edge rusher Clay Matthews has been a shell of himself this season, his teammate Kyler Fackrell is having a breakout season. Quarterback Matt Ryan has not been comfortable behind this offensive line in quite a while and it has even affected the play calling in recent weeks. The Falcons will have to truly address the line this offseason but for the time being, finding some sense of stability and reliability will go a long way to aiding the offense.