By Shawn Lealos
The Atlanta Falcons had one of the top ranked offenses in the NFL this year, but they have their work cut out for them in the conference championship. If there was any question about how hot the Green Bay Packers were, they answered that when they beat the No. 1 seeded Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoffs. Aaron Rodgers promised to run the table this year and he is now just one game away from the Super Bowl. Here is a look at the Green Bay Packers as they prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at 3:05 p.m. ET in the conference championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Green Bay Packers Season Record
Early in the NFL season, the Green Bay Packers looked like they were headed toward a losing year. The were 4-6 after the first 10 games and things looked bleak. However, Aaron Rodgers came out and said that his team would run the table and they did, finishing the year 10-6 and winning the NFC North by beating the Detroit Lions. They then blew out the New York Giants and knocked off the Dallas Cowboys with a last-second field goal to make it to Atlanta.
Green Bay Packers On Offense
Aaron Rodgers came into the divisional championship against the Dallas Cowboys without his best receiver in Jordy Nelson. However, Rodgers didn’t miss a beat. He led the Packers to three consecutive touchdowns and then a win with under one minute left in the game. Rodgers proved in that game that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. His QB rating in the playoffs is second to only Matt Ryan at 110.4.
A Jordy Nelson return is a possibility, which could be huge for Green Bay. Without him, Davante Adams ranks second this postseason with 13 receptions for 201 yards and Randall Cobb ranks fourth with 12 catches for 178 yards. Even tight end Jared Cook is hot right now, with 11 catches for 152 yards. The three have combined for six touchdowns through two games. While the running game is not the focus of the Packers, Ty Montgomery still ran for two touchdowns against the Cowboys.
Green Bay Packers On Defense
The Green Bay Packers defense is the weak link. After taking a 28-10 lead over the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers defense gave up 18 straight points to allow Dallas to tie up the game. Even after taking the 31-28 lead, the Packers defense collapsed again and let Dallas tie it up once more in less than two minutes. Thankfully for Green Bay, Rodgers was there to save the day. However, against Atlanta, this defense could lose the game for Green Bay if they can’t stop Matt Ryan.
In the regular season, Green Bay gave up 363.9 yards and 24.3 points per game. Their passing defense was second worst in the NFL, giving up 269 passing yards a game. When the two teams played earlier in the season, Atlanta won 33-32 and Matt Ryan threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers defense gave up 299 yards passing to Eli Manning in the wild card round and 302 yards passing to Dak Prescott last weekend.
Green Bay Packers Players To Watch
Aaron Rodgers – The one player who can win games for Green Bay all by himself is Rodgers. In two playoff games, he has thrown for 718 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception. This game will come down to Rodgers vs. Ryan.
Ty Montgomery – The Packers have a lot of weapons in the passing game, but it’s Ty Montgomery who needs to have a good game to help Green Bay win. The receiver-turned-running back won’t run for a lot of yards, but he is a weapon in the running and passing game. Green Bay needs him to move the chains to keep Matt Ryan off the field.
This might be the best game of the playoffs from an offensive standpoint. It will take a lot to match the drama of the Dallas Cowboys game, but Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan can score at will and will pile up the points. This is a game where the last team to score will probably win it all. Rodgers is the hottest player in the NFL right now, so Green Bay is coming in as a slight favorite, but the Packers will have to stop Matt Ryan if they want to win.