Here We Go Again

NFC Game Of The Week

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Packers: There were a few things that impressed me in week one and they were one of them. What’s been keeping them from being taken more seriously as a contender has been their defense but the way they looked on Sunday against Seattle made you think otherwise. Dom Capers finally switched things up in their scheme. For years, he’s been known to load the box up and use a look that would show blitz and play zone at the same time and it was eating them alive and teams would simply take advantage of it. In week one, He rushed four guys and dropped back seven and that’s what they need to stick with along with mixing it up with exotic looks up front. Look at these stats: They hit Russell Wilson 10 times, recorded six tackles for losses, and disrupted five passes. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a victory and it came over a team that’s been known to give them fits over the years in the Seattle Seahawks. In this league, you have to be able to grind out wins and that’s exactly what they did. Aaron had another day at the office and got his two receivers involved as often as he can. I think people underestimate this trio of Packers receivers. Jordy is the top guy and the number one target, Randall Cobb can do a variety of things whether it’s out wide or in the slot (where I feel he’s best) and then Davante Adams who really had a breakout year in 2016 can get it going. This is the best trio of receivers in the NFC right now. For the second straight year, they’ll help open up another brand new stadium, this time in Atlanta.

Falcons: I really thought they didn’t look all that great on Sunday in Chicago and you’d think they want to make a statement considering this was their first meaningful football game since the Super Bowl (we don’t need to bring up what happened in February, we all know by now). Their defense had an up and down game. Let’s get the bad out of the way and look at the negatives: They gave up 125 and over six yards per carry. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen just simply had their way. Now, the positives: They recorded 14 quarterback hits and four of those were sacks including the sack by Brooks Reed of Mike Glennon on fourth and goal to seal the deal with a win on the road. They may have played sloppy on defense, but they made a play to close the game out when they had too and got a victory because of it. Now, let’s break down the Falcons offense. They were the number one ranked unit in the league last year averaging close to 34 points a game in 2016. This is a much different team offensively when they are outdoors on natural grass compared to how they’d operate on their home turf. I know it may sound silly, but if you watch the game closely like I have all these years, you pick up on things like this. They’re 1-0, they’ll finally get a chance to play in their new stadium with an angry Packers team coming to town for a Sunday night showdown.

Packers Player To Watch: Mike Daniels– This guy had himself one monstrous game on Sunday against the Seahawks. He was all over the place. He’s such a powerful guy at six feet tall and 291 pounds to disrupt any offensive line and he isn’t a pass rusher, he’s what I call a “pocket pusher” meaning he can still collapse the quarterback’s pocket without necessarily having to get to the quarterback. The Falcons will try to establish Freeman early, he needs to be able to help shut down that running game of the Falcons.

Falcons Player To Watch: Austin Hooper– The Falcons have a new offensive coordinator. It’s Steve Sarkisian, the former head coach of USC. They’re still getting adjusted to his system so expect them to get more comfortable within the next couple of weeks. One thing I noticed was getting the tight end more involved. He had an impact and can have one in this passing attack. To establish your own game, you need to run the ball and use your tight end over the middle to create mismatches with those safeties. He had a big game against the Bears and I could see him doing the same on Sunday night.

Final Analysis: These two faced each other twice last year. Once in the regular season and that was decided by a point. The second time was in the NFC title game with the Falcons dominating the Packers. The Packers offensive line has to be better in this battle. Aaron Rodgers was drilled in that title game so protecting him and being aware up front maybe the most important key for the Packers. The Packers front seven is better all-around but maybe it’s still too early to say that. They will need to really disrupt Matt Ryan’s timing and limit the passing game. The Falcons secondary will really need to be on it after a down performance on Sunday in Chicago in week one.

Prediction: Packers 38 Falcons 35