The Green Bay Packers (4-0) travel to the Georgia Dome to play the Atlanta Falcons (2-2) in a rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game in which the Packers won by a score of 48-21. The nationally televised game on NBC Sunday Night Football is a revenge game for the Atlanta Falcons even though they would not publicly admit it this week.
Atlanta won a close game against the Seattle Seahawks last week 30-28, which kept them from falling two games behind NFC South division leaders New Orleans Saints (3-1) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1). Green Bay beat the Denver Broncos 49-23 in a rout at Lambeau Field to remain tied for first place with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown for 6 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and has an 84.8 passer rating. Compared to Ryan, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 12 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and has a league-leading 124.6 passer rating, so far this season. Ryan has 1,135 total passing yards to Rodgers’ 1,325 passing yards this year.
Aaron Rodgers has a new commercial that may premiere during Sunday night’s game. You can get a sneak peek of the commercial here.
The Packers will be without starting offensive right tackle Bryan Bulaga for the second straight game after he sustained a knee injury in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears. Marshall Newhouse will again start in place of Bulaga. Packers Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews is listed as probable for Sunday night’s game with a quad injury he sustained in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers.
The Falcons will be without starting center Todd McClure after he aggravated a knee injury last week against the Seahawks. Second-year player Joe Hawley will start in place of McClure. Defensive end John Abraham was limited in practice this week with a hip injury and is listed as questionable for the game.
The Green Bay Packers can secure a victory against the Atlanta Falcons, if they address three key issues during the game.
1. Secondary coverage
The Packers’ secondary will need to successfully defend wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones and tight end Tony Gonzalez as they account for two-thirds of the Falcons’ total receptions for the year.
Green Bay has given up an abnormal amount of passing yards to opposing offenses this season, and Atlanta will test the Packers’ secondary to see if they can add to the statistic.
First-round draft pick Julio Jones has not yet scored a touchdown this season, and you can bet the Falcons would love to get him in the end zone against the Packers on national television.
Atlanta will want to score early in order to get the crowd into the game as fast as possible. If Matt Ryan can get down field with big pass plays, the crowd in the noisy Georgia Dome will be a distraction for the Packers.
2. Special Teams
Atlanta return man Eric Weems scored twice on kickoff returns against the Packers last year. Green Bay will need to keep Weems in check and execute well with blocks and tackles to prevent Weems from finding the end zone again.
3. Take the crowd out early
Green Bay will have an advantage, if they can take the crowd out early in the game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will certainly be using a silent snap count at the beginning of the game due to the extreme noise level in the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta will test right tackle Marshall Newhouse with defensive ends Ray Edwards and John Abraham to see which one provides the better matchup against the second-string Newhouse. If Atlanta can get to Aaron Rodgers, then the crowd will be hyped and loud during the entire game.
Green Bay Packers: Week 4 vs Broncos
Green Bay Packers: Week 3 vs Bears
Green Bay Packers: Week 2 vs Panthers
Green Bay Packers: Week 1 vs Saints