Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons: NFC Divisional Pre-Game Analysis

The Green Bay Packers have fought their way into and through the playoffs so far. After their close loss to the New England Patriots in week 15, they decimated the New York Giants and scraped by their rivals the Chicago Bears to make it into the playoffs — barely.  Now they scraped again past the potent Philadelphia Eagles and their wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and their defense stepped when necessary and surprisingly dropped into zone coverage against Michael Vick, as Clay Matthews was kept in check mostly. Now they face one of the more consistent offenses this season with running back Michael Turner and star receiver Roddy White.

This game is a rematch of the week 12 matchup which the Falcons won 20-17 over the Packers. Now let’s see how both stack up:

Quarterbacks

Comparing regular season numbers, Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers had 3,922 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 101.2 average quarterback rating. Also, Rodgers in the Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers matchup threw for a 180 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 122.5 quarterback rating.  Meanwhile, during the regular season, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons had 3,705 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a 91.0 quarterback rating.  Comparing regular season statistics, Matt Ryan is slightly more efficient, but Aaron Rodgers gains more yardage per pass.  Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers get the slight edge in my opinion because Rodgers has been consistently faced tough defenses into the playoffs and won.

Running Backs

The Packers backfield has exploded recently with James Starks and his great running ability.  He was quiet for much of the season due to injury, but he had come out to play. Currently, in the post-season, James Starks has 123 yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry.  During the regular season, Green Bay’s Brandon Jackson had 703 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns and averaged 3.7 yards per carry.  Compared to the Atlanta Falcons, star running back Michael Turner had 1,371 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and averaged 4.1 yards per carry.  In the regular season, Turner was 3rd in terms of rushing yards in the league  and he had as many touchdowns as Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson and one short of Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall.  His partner Jason Snelling had 324 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaged 3.7 yards per carry.  On pure numbers alone, Turner and the Falcons get the edge.

Wide Receivers

This is going to be interesting on how Packers Greg Jennings stacks up against Falcons Roddy White. During the regular season, Jennings had 1,265 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns and averaged 16.6 yards per reception.  Additionally, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver each had more than 550 yards receiving, averaged 12.5 yards per reception and a combined total of 11 touchdowns. On the other side, Falcons Roddy White had 1,389 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns and averaged 12.1 yards per reception.  His partner Michael Jenkins had 505 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaged 12.3 yards per reception.  In the regular season, in the league overall, Roddy White was ranked 2nd in terms of passing yardage, and Greg Jennings was ranked 4th.  However, Jennings was ranked 2nd in touchdowns with the same number as Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson.  The Green Bay Packers receiving corps get the edge this battle.

Tight Ends

The Green Bay Packers Donald Lee had 73 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 yards per reception during the regular season.  On the other hand, the Falcons Tony Gonzalez had 656 yards receiving, 6 touchdowns and averaged 9.4 yards per reception.  The Falcons get the edge, as Tony Gonzalez is Matt Ryan’s 2nd favorite target and he’s leaned on more than Lee would.

Defenses

During the regular season, the Green Bay Packers ranked 5th against the pass and 18th against the rush. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons defense ranked 22nd against the pass and 10th against the run during the regular season. During the regular season, Clay Matthews had 13.5 sacks and ranked 4th in sacks in the entire league.  He also tacked on one more in the Eagles-Packers game. Meanwhile, Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes and safety William Moore both had 5 interceptions during the regular season and ranked 10th in interceptions.  This is going to be tough, as both have playmakers on defense.  It’s going to a push, with a slight edge going to the Packers.

Coaches/Intangibles

Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy had to adapt, and he’s relied on whatever is best for the team to win. He still relies on Rodgers’ arm frequently though. Atlanta Falcons Mike Smith favors the run with Michael Turner, but he still has the ability to pass as necessary with Roddy Smith and Tony Gonzalez. The edge should go the Packers in this one, but it is highly dependent on the Packers containing the rush.  But they have demonstrated success against Philadelphia’s rush of both LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick.

Edge

The edge is close again.  Both teams are well-matched, and the edge goes to the Packers 23-20.  This could go down to the last few minutes again.

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