Packers vs. Falcons Keys To the Game:

Steve O Speak

Green Bay Packers:

1. Use the Run To Set Up the Pass: I know it is tempting to just put the ball in Aaron Rodgers hands and let him air it out, but I’d focus on the run early. The Falcons have a pretty good pass defense, with a good pass rush and some very impressive ball hawks in the secondary. If the Packers can run the ball effectively early, it should force the safeties to have to cheat up to try and stop them.

2. Play Your Defense: The worst thing the Packers can do is have their defense dictated by the Falcons offense. Green Bay can’t worry about trying to take a single player out of the game, or focusing on a single aspect. The Falcons are too well balanced and have too much individual talent to key in on just one player. The Packers need to play their defensive game plan, and in fact begin to dictate what they want to do.

3. Unleash The Fury: Clay Matthews Jr. is perhaps the most dangerous pass rusher in the NFL. He is fast, strong, and has perhaps some of the best instincts in the game. The Packers need to set up their defense to allow Matthews the most freedom and creativity in tonight’s game. While stopping Matthews can set up other defensive players to have big games, he has to have an impact early if the Falcons are going to concede to other players. Also, Matthews is the type of play maker, who will turn a typical pressure into a sack, or a sack into a fumble.

Atlanta Falcons:

1. Attack The Quarterback: The Packers offensive line has been a work in progress this season. While some days their line offers great protection, there are other games where they are a revolving door for pass rushers. The Falcons need to do everything in their power, to increase the pressure on this offensive line and subsequently on Aaron Rodgers. They need to show a number of different looks and bring pressure from everywhere to exploit the Packers weakness. John Abraham is their leading sack master, but he can’t do it alone. Atlanta needs to dial up their defense and force Rodgers into a few mistakes.

2. Run the Ball: Atlanta has one of the best rushing attacks in the league, and while their passing games isn’t too shabby they should look to run Michael Turner early and often. The Packers will be looking to blitz to disrupt Matt Ryan, and one of the best things to slow down the blitz is an effective rushing attack. If they force the Packers to be more of a read and react team on defense, then Atlanta wins this game easily. The Falcons best chance of dictating this game is on the ground, so that is exactly what they have to do.

3. Stop the Run: The Packers had a lot of success last week, with rookie RB James Starks picking up big chunks of yards against the Eagles. And if the Packers run effectively it makes it that much harder to stop Aaron Rodgers. If the Falcons can stop Starks and company with their base front seven, then they should be in a good position to have the coverage to slow down the passing game. Given the talent of the Packers passing attack, you simply won’t be able to shut down that aspect of their offense. The running game is another story since a lot of the issue is the weak offense line trying to open up holes. Since the Falcons can take away the running game, that needs to be there early focus, and their best chance to win.

Prediction: Falcons win 31-27

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