By Matthew Asher
If Atlanta wants to win their second straight game, and fourth of the season, here are three keys to securing that victory. It’s uncertain if franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be able to play or not as he is still healing a broken collarbone. With that in mind, these thoughts are given under the impression that Rodgers will not be under center against Atlanta this Sunday.
Pressure Matt Flynn (or whoever takes the snaps on Sunday)
Flynn is actually the fourth person to start at quarterback for the Packers this season. He came in relief of the Packers two weeks ago when Green Bay ended up tying the Minnesota Vikings. His first start was last week against Detroit on Thanksgiving and it was an ugly game for the Packers.
In those two games, Flynn has thrown for about 350 yards, completing 55 percent of his passes with one touchdown and interception apiece for am ugly quarterback rating of 73.3. What’s frightening is that despite those bad numbers, he still ranks higher than the other two backup quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace as those two quarterbacks have a downright terrible, one touchdown to six interception ratio. Whoever ends up being the signal caller for Green Bay, Atlanta needs to force him to make mistakes.
Shut down Eddie Lacy
Lacy has done an admirable job for the Packers regarding their running game. He’s picked up 822 yards on the ground in 207 carries for a respectable 4.0 yards per carry average. He’s also scored six rushing touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 181 yards. Green Bay averages about 130 rushing yards each game, the eighth most in the league. Atlanta allows 134 rushing yards each game, the third worst in the league.
Protect Matt Ryan
Ryan has been sacked 30 times so far this season. As evidenced by Green Bay’s abysmal season with the loss of their starting quarterback, it’s clear that Atlanta can ill afford their franchise quarterback to suffer a similar fate.
There are two ways to deal with the Green Bay pass rush.
The first is to run the ball a lot. The problem is that Atlanta has one of the least potent running games in the league. Averaging just 81.1 yards on the ground each game, they are in the bottom five in the league, but with the return of Steven Jackson the team has picked up more yards on the ground over the past few games. This is one game where running the ball seems both logical and possible as Green Bay’s rushing defense ranks in the bottom 10 of the league.
The other possible solution for protecting Ryan is to throw passes to a lot of quick five-and-out and ten-and-out plays. The less time Ryan spends getting sacked means more opportunities for wide receivers like Harry Douglas and Roddy White to help out their team.
With Aaron Rodgers’ status still up in the air, these are a few of the best ways Atlanta can pick up their fourth win of the season and possibly avoid a double-digit loss season for the first time in the Mike Smith era. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. #RiseUp.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.