By Matthew Asher
If Atlanta still wants the NFC South title, they’re going to need to keep winning. Here are three ways in which the Falcons can notch an away victory this week in Green Bay. While the Arizona Cardinals are known for their defensive strength, the Green Bay Packers have one of the best offenses in the league. If Atlanta wants to notch their second consecutive victory, their defense is going to really have to be on point.
Key 1: Limit Nelson and Cobb’s Production
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been on a tear this season. He’s thrown for more than 3,300 yards, 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are responsible for the majority of those statistics. Nelson and Cobb have combined for 135 catches (54 percent), 2,041 yards (61 percent) and 20 touchdown receptions (61 percent). Just how far ahead are these two men? Davante Adams is third on the team with 34 catches, 417 yards and 3 touchdowns giving him 31 fewer catches, 505 fewer yards and seven touchdowns than Cobb has so far.
If Atlanta can limit at least Nelson and Cobb’s production, this will force the Packers to rely on their running game. This is not Green Bay’s strength as the Packers are in the bottom half of the league averaging less than 110 yards on the ground.
Key 2: Limit Turnovers
Green Bay ranks atop the entire league at plus-15 in the turnover department. The next best team is the New England Patriots who are just at plus-11. A lot of this is because the Packers simply don’t turn the ball over. Both Green Bay quarterbacks have combined for just four interceptions and four lost fumbles, which ranks the Packers as tied for the fourth-best in the league.
Key 3: Air The Ball Out
This may seem counter intuitive because not only do the Packers not turn the ball over, but they also to a great job of forcing turnovers. With 15 interceptions, the Packers rank fourth in the league. Green Bay is competent regarding sacking quarterbacks. The 28 sacks rank them at 14th in the league, so even though Atlanta’s offensive line needs work, it’s worth the risk because the Falcons’ strength is their passing game, as they technically rank above Green Bay in the passing department. Julio Jones and Roddy White have combined for 138 catches, 1,831 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Steven Jackson may have eclipsed the 100-yard mark last week against Arizona, but relying him on to churn out century games each time just isn’t a believable scenario. The Packers do give up 132 yards on the ground, ranking them as one of the five worst teams in the league, but with the loss of Antone Smith for the season, trying to replicate the stats on the ground is nice, but shouldn’t be focused on.
Kickoff for the Monday Night Football game is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET. #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.