Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers Preview

Dec 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Atlanta Falcons running back Antone Smith (35) drops a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Center. Falcons beat the Bills 34 to 31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of a (gasp) win over the Buffalo Bills last week, and as they prepare for a road tilt in Green Bay, it’s been mostly quiet around Flowery Branch. However, the Green Bay side of the things has been pretty busy in the days leading up to the game, and they have a high-profile player missing in action for Sunday. Without further ado, let’s get it going.

Opponent - Green Bay Packers (5-6-1, 3-2-1 at home)

Time/TV - 1:00 PM ET, FOX

Falcons Offense vs. Packers Defense

On the offensive side of the ball, last week was a reminder of just how good this unit can be. Roddy White looks to be back in full after a 100+ yard output, and Harry Douglas has been one of the lone bright spots this season. Throw in a mini-resurgence from Steven Jackson, and this is shaping up to be a favorable spot.

Green Bay has struggled in a mighty way defensively, as they are currently 22nd against the pass and 26th against the run. Those numbers should be given a slight “bump” because they’re playing at home against an indoor team in the elements, but as a rule, the Packers can be pushed around on defense.

Look for a relatively big day from Steven Jackson (or Antone Smith!) in the running game, and a continually solid effort from the passing offense, that could result in some solid points, especially if the weather allows.

Falcons Defense vs. Packers Offense

Here’s where things get very interesting. The aforementioned “high-profile absence” came to fruition late this week, as Green Bay announced that they’ll be without their unquestioned leader. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be sidelined again with a collarbone injury, and that leaves Green Bay’s offense in an immediate state of flux.

Matt Flynn was horrific in Green Bay’s blowout loss on Thanksgiving, and something tells me that 10 days of rest isn’t enough to get him righted. Behind Flynn, they could use Scott Tolzien, but the former Wisconsin Badger was mostly underwhelming in limited playing time this season, and there’s a reason he was an undrafted free agent. Green Bay still has big-time weapons in Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and even Jarrett Boykin, but they can be stopped with this duo under center.

As for the Green Bay running game, Eddie Lacy is a monster, and that is a concern for Atlanta. I’d like for this defense to load up the box to stop Lacy (especially given Atlanta’s status as the 30th ranked run defense in the NFL), and if they can hold down Lacy, Flynn/Tolzien will be forced to beat them.

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At 3-9, the Falcons are still very much “in contention” for a top-3 pick, but they honestly can’t “afford” many more wins. The contingent of fans that are rooting for the Falcons to tank saw a huge blow when Rodgers was ruled out, and if anything, I’d expect a highly competitive game here. If the “good” Falcons show up, they’ll win this game simply because Green Bay won’t be able to match them blow-for-blow, but if the 3-9 element arrives, throw everything out the window.

Stay tuned for a game thread on Sunday morning, and be sure to join us in the comments throughout the day!

Topics: Atlanta Falcons

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