Another week, another home game for the Atlanta Falcons, who are riding the high of a two-score win against Carolina. There’s no time to rest on laurels and no will in Flowery Branch to that, however, because that was an uneven effort even with the victory, and the Green Bay Packers are on the way.
Green Bay showed off a quality passing attack and tough defense in Week 1, while their ground game scuffled a bit and their run defense was merely solid. They’re still a bigger test of this new-look Falcons squad than Carolina was, and there are reasons to feel confident about the matchup and certainly things to fret over.
Let’s tackle one of each today.
One reason to feel confident: The rumblin’ boys
The Packers just did a solid job of slowing down the Bears, who were clearly not at their peak rushing powers. The Bears still ran for 122 yards on 29 carries, or 4.2 yards per carry, and a touchdown. This is not a drastically different Packers defense than the one that finished 26th in the NFL in terms of rushing yards allowed and 23rd in rushing touchdowns allowed, so that initial effort is not a bellwether of some great improvement.
Enter the Falcons, who have perhaps the NFL’s most matchup-proof rushing attack. Atlanta just finished dismantling the NFL’s 18th-ranked 2022 rushing defense to the tune of 130 yards on 26 carries, or 5 yards per carry, with an extremely one-dimensional gameplan thanks to an ultra-conservative passing attack. Carolina’s defensive front is full of capable defenders, as is Green Bay’s, but the team’s stellar blockers, high-end rushing options, and clever scheming are virtually guaranteed to make the Packers’ run defense miserable.
That’s not even mentioning that Cordarrelle Patterson may return this week after missing the Panthers game, which would make this attack even more potent. If the Falcons manage fewer than 120 yards and a pair of scores on the ground I’ll be stunned, and that should do much to keep them in this game.
One reason to worry: Green Bay’s balanced offense
Atlanta’s lack of a passing attack gets an honorable mention here, but I do expect better results this week with Atlanta having mistakes to work on from the Panthers game and without Brian Burns and Derrick Brown putting this offensive line in hell, even if Green Bay’s front is intimidating on its own.
The greater concern is Green Bay’s offense. Chicago didn’t put up much of a fight in this one, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that the Packers cooked up an effective passing game even with limited weapons available. Matt LaFleur and company excel at using pre-snap motion to try to get better matchups and sow some chaos, which will test a Falcons secondary that looked excellent last week. While Green Bay’s rushing attack did not impress against Chicago, Aaron Jones is a lethal back and will test this defense, which struggled with lesser players in Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard.
There’s potential here for Green Bay to get into an early groove and put up a lot of points; I don’t have to point out that this Falcons offense fares best when it can pair a dominant ground game with a passing attack that doesn’t take a ton of risk. Atlanta’s defense will have to be sharp early and sharp late to ensure the Falcons don’t have to abandon their favored gameplan.