The Atlanta Falcons stumbled out the gate to open the 2016 NFL season, but then ripped off four impressive wins to develop into one of the top teams in the NFC. However, losses to Seattle and San Diego exposed the Packers weaknesses and now they get Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in a very tough home game. While Atlanta is holding a slim lead in the NFC South, Green Bay is fighting to retake control of the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers Season Record
The Green Bay Packers are 4-2 on the season, one game back of the Minnesota Vikings and only half a game ahead of the Detroit Lions. While the Packers only have two losses on the season, they came at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys and Vikings, two teams who sit above them in the NFC rankings. That makes the game with the Atlanta Falcons very important, because if they lose this one, it really affects the tie-breakers for home-field advantage when the playoffs roll around.
Green Bay Packers On Offense
The Green Bay Packers live and die with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. On the season, Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdown passes and four interceptions, which is actually a high interception total for the Packers’ signal caller. He has only eclipsed 300 yards passing once this season and that is interesting since the Packers are struggling when it comes to the running game. He still has weapons in Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson, but if the Packers can’t control the game through the air, they will struggle to win this year.
Leading running back Eddie Lacy leads the team with 360 yards, but is now on the injured reserve list. That leaves James Starks, Ty Montgomery and newcomer Knile Davis as their options. Outside of Lacy, and the times that Rodgers has had to keep the ball and run, Packers’ runners have only gained 173 yards and no touchdowns on the season.
Green Bay Packers On Defense
The Packers defense are not letting them down as they did in the past, often playing better than the offense. There are moments where they falter, such as when they gave up 30 points, three touchdowns through the air, and over 150 rushing yards to the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. Their win last week came when they knocked out Chicago Bears starting quarterback Brian Hoyer with a broken arm and the defense really rallied in their big win over the New York Giants earlier in the season.
Big names like Clay Matthews are not playing up to their reputations, with only 13 tackles and three sacks on the season. However, rookies like linebacker Kyler Fackrell and defensive tackle Kenny Clark have really helped round out this defense. Fackrell has 10 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery on the season and this year’s first round pick Clark has 10 tackles, one fumble recovery and a pass defense. Added to names like Matthews and Joe Thomas, this defense is better than it has looked in years.
Green Bay Packers Players To Watch
Aaron Rodgers – The Green Bay Packers need Aaron Rodgers to play up to his skills to win. Rodgers is on pace for almost 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns on the season, and he might have to do even more without a solid running game. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best players in the NFL when it comes to winning games all on his own. If Rodgers is on, the Falcons will have a lot of trouble.
Nick Perry – Matt Ryan is enjoying a career year throwing the ball, even with Julio Jones not at full strength. Nick Perry is the most important person on this defense when it comes to stopping Ryan and disrupting the Falcons’ offensive attack. Perry already has 5.5 sacks on the season, along with an interception and 26 total tackles.
Knile Davis – The Green Bay Packers lost Eddie Lacy to injury and didn’t seem happy with his replacements in James Starks and Ty Montgomery. As a result, they traded for Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis, who was supposed to be Jamaal Charles’ replacement in Kansas City. While Davis didn’t play much in his first game, he is learning the system and has a chance to be a playmaker in Green Bay.
The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons have been two of the top teams in the NFL for many years. However, the Packers have always held the advantage, remaining on the top for years while the Falcons have suffered through peaks and valleys. Matt Ryan is leading the NFL in passing yards while Rodgers is about equal when it comes to touchdown-interception ratio. Atlanta has a better offense overall than Green Bay right now so this is likely to come down to the defense. Green Bay has the advantage here with the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL. This is almost too close to call and should be one of the best games in the NFL this week.